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Lawmakers seek help from federal agency as Viatris closure looms

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As the first phase of the Viatris plant closure looms, state lawmakers have petitioned the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to declare the facility as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

Multiple lawmakers — including House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, and Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia — have sent letters in an attempt to keep the facility open.

The plant opened in 1965 with a focus on manufacturing various supplements and generic medications.

Viatris — the company formed between Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer subsidiary Upjohn —announced the closure last December as part of an international plan to cut costs. More than 1,400 employees at the Morgantown facility will lose their jobs once the closure process is complete, in which the first layoffs will take effect on Saturday.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency focuses on addressing national risks and coordinating resilience efforts.

“We’re talking about a mechanism to keep a private entity that’s otherwise capable of operating and providing goods and services that are necessary for the health and welfare of Americans in operation,” Hanshaw said.

Hanshaw said workers will likely have to move from Morgantown because of job opportunities elsewhere.

“If we let those facilities close and let the capacity erode and let the employee capacity dissipate and let the human talent move away, it’s difficult — if not almost impossible — to stand that back up,” he said.

According to Fleischauer, the facility has the potential to be a regional economic force under a different company.

“It has the ability to pivot for when there’s a need because they’ve made so many different types of compressed pills and capsules,” she said. “It’s especially valuable.”

State lawmakers during this year’s regular legislative session passed resolutions asking Gov. Jim Justice and federal officials to work on finding another operator or investor. Legislators also considered using coronavirus relief funds to entice a company into moving into the facility.

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Judge to hear closing arguments in opioid epidemic trial

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A trial that began nearly three months ago focused on the impact of the opioid epidemic in Huntington and surrounding areas enters its final stage Tuesday with the beginning of closing arguments.

U.S. District Judge David Faber

The plaintiffs, the City of Huntington and Cabell County, claim drug distributors AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and Cardinal Health, helped fuel the epidemic by dumping 100 million pills into the region over a decade.

The trial, which began May 3 before U.S. District Judge David Faber, has followed a consistent schedule, with only a few days taken off until a two-week break after all testimony had been submitted.

Faber has set aside 12 hours for closing arguments. The plaintiffs are expected to take three to four hours Tuesday followed by six hours from the defendants with a few hours left for rebuttal by the plaintiffs.

MetroNews legal analyst Harvey Peyton expects detailed closing arguments given the trial has been a bench trial and not a jury trial.

“It’s going to be more of a presentation of the overall elements of their case, a more intellectual, a more in-depth (presentation) than if you would have argued this case to a jury,” Peyton predicted.

Attorney Paul Farrell, representing Huntington, will deliver part of the closing argument. He also delivered the plaintiff’s opening statement on May 3.

He said then the case would be built on four main pillars including volume of pills, black flags the distributors should have noticed, the morphine molecule and the opioid epidemic.

Paul Farrell (Photo/WV Record)

Farrell said the “Big 3” had “notice, foreseeability, and acknowledgement” of a problem but they do very little about it.

“Instead of complying they sold more pills,” Farrell said.

During its opening statements, the distributors all said the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) controls the supply of drugs and their instructions were followed. The defense also pointed at budget decisions made by the City of Huntington to cut funding for law enforcement and a drug task force.

Huntington Fire Chief Jan Rader was among the dozens of witnesses called by the plaintiffs during the trial. Part of her testimony focused on drug overdoses.

“In 2012 it really skyrocketed,” Rader testified. “We were on opioid overdoses (calls) constantly and it continued to rise. No one is immune from it. I’ve seen victims from age 12 to 78. It is heartbreaking. There are no boundaries here.”

Jan Rader

She also told the judge about programs that have been established to help first responders who have had to deal with a lot of overdoses. Rader said the funding for those programs isn’t long-term.

“Most everything we’ve done is grant money. That’s start up money,” Rader told Faber. “This is going to take a long time. We need additional funding to keep programs going.”

Future funding is a big part of the plaintiff’s case.

Anthony Majestro

Another attorney for the plaintiffs, Anthony Majestro, said during an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline” earlier this month the plaintiffs are satisfied with what they’ve given Faber to consider.

“I believe we put on a very strong case that these defendants who are distributors of opioids … violated their duties under the Controlled Substances Act,” Majestro said.

Peyton said it’s a causation case.

“There’s no question that the doctors prescribed them and they (the distributors) shipped them and there’s really no issue that there’s an opioid crisis–the question is–is the one connected to the other?”

Peyton said given the amount of testimony, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for Faber to take up to 60 days to render his decision.

Closing arguments are set to start at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Byrd Federal Courthouse in downtown Charleston.

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Texas and Oklahoma notify Big 12 they will not renew grant of media rights

As expected, Texas and Oklahoma are on their way out of the Big 12 Conference as they seek membership into the Southeastern Conference.

On Monday, a joint statement was released by both schools informing the Big 12 they will not renew the league’s grant of media rights following its expiration in 2025.

The statement read: The University of Oklahoma and The University of Texas at Austin notified the Big 12 Athletic Conference today that they will not be renewing their grants of media rights following expiration in 2025. Providing notice to the Big 12 at this point is important in advance of the expiration of the conference’s current media rights agreement. The universities intend to honor their existing grant of rights agreements. However, both universities will continue to monitor the rapidly evolving collegiate athletics landscape as they consider how best to position their athletics programs for the future.

While the statement suggests both schools will remain in the Big 12 for nearly the next four years (the grant of rights expires June 30, 2025), Texas and Oklahoma could reach a settlement with the Big 12 to leave earlier.

A statement released Monday afternoon by the Big 12 seemed to indicate it would hold the two schools to the lengths of their original agreements.

“Although our eight members are disappointed with the decisions of these two institutions, we recognize that intercollegiate athletics is experiencing rapid change and will most likely look much different in 2025 than it does currently,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “The Big 12 Conference will continue to support our member institutions’ efforts to graduate student-athletes, and compete for Big 12 and NCAA championships. Like many others, we will use the next four years to fully assess what the landscape will look like in 2025 and beyond. The remaining eight institutions will work together in a collaborative manner to thoughtfully and strategically position the Big 12 Conference for continued success, both athletically and academically, long into the future.”

The grant of rights agreement signed by all Big 12 schools grants their media rights in football and men’s basketball to the conference, which has television contracts with ESPN and Fox that expire in 2025.

.@bradhowe07, MetroNews sports, joins @DaveWilsonMN on set to discuss what’s going on with the Big 12 conference realignment. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/tfTFL43Tc6

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) July 26, 2021

The future of the Big 12 is now in limbo, with the remaining eight schools — West Virginia, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech — left to figure out their future.

Those schools could seek membership into another Power 5 Conference, but it remains to be seen if the ACC, Big Ten or Pac-12 opt for expansion.

The Big 12 could also look to keep the eight holdover schools and add others as it tries to stay afloat.

On Sunday, the Big 12’s Executive Committee, consisting of the league’s Board of Directors chairman and Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec and Baylor President Linda Livingstone and Commissioner Bob Bowlsby held a meeting by videoconference with Oklahoma President Joe Harroz and Texas President Jay Hartzell.

“The meeting was cordial, and the Executive Committee expressed a willingness to discuss proposals that would strengthen the Conference and be mutually beneficial to OU and UT, as well as the other member institutions of the Conference,” Bowlsby said. “I expect that we will continue our conversations in the days ahead and we look forward to discussing thoughts, ideas and concepts that may be of shared interest and impact.”

But the two schools, who reportedly began exploring a move to the SEC in December 2020, are set to bolt a conference they were original members of when it formed in 1994.

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National Weather Service launching ‘damage threat’ tags to Severe Thunderstorm Warnings

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Beginning Monday, Aug. 2, all branches of the National Weather Service will begin adding a “damage threat” tag to Severe Thunderstorm Warnings, to better convey the severity and potential impacts from thunderstorm winds and hail.

The National Weather Service (NWS) recently announced the development of three categories of damage threat for Severe Thunderstorm Warnings. The categories, in order of highest to lowest damage threat, are destructive, considerable, and base.

According to the NWS Charleston, these tags and additional messaging are designed to promote immediate action, based on the threats, and send out a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) for a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. The alerts, only used for destructive, would go to every cell phone much like a Tornado Warning or Amber Alert.

“That will set off wireless emergency alerts, which are the alerts built into everyone’s cell phones. We can really increase awareness of those high-end thunderstorms,” Tony Edwards, Warning Coordination Meteorologist for NWS Charleston told MetroNews.

The criteria for a destructive damage threat is at least 2.75 inch diameter (baseball-sized) hail and/or 80 mph thunderstorm winds. Warnings with this tag will automatically activate a WEA on smartphones within the warned area, according to the NWS.

The criteria for a considerable damage threat is at least 1.75 inch diameter (golf ball-sized) hail and/or 70 mph thunderstorm winds. This will not activate a WEA.

The criteria for a baseline or “base” severe thunderstorm warning remains unchanged, 1.00 inch (quarter-sized) hail and/or 58 mph thunderstorm winds. This will not activate a WEA. When no damage threat tag is present, the damage is expected to be at the base level.

Severe thunderstorms can be life-threatening, but not all severe storms are the same. Starting Aug 2, NWS will add a “damage threat” tag to Severe Thunderstorm Warnings, triggering Wireless Emergency Alerts for “destructive” storms.https://t.co/uO5H84SOqr pic.twitter.com/Aa96VaeDJk

— NWS Charleston, WV (@NWSCharlestonWV) July 26, 2021

According to the NWS, only 10 percent of all severe thunderstorms reach the destructive category each year, nationwide. Most of these storms are damaging wind events such as derechoes and some of the larger, more intense thunderstorms, called “Supercell” storms that can typically produce very large hail in their path.

“I don’t think we’re going to employ it very often around here because it is a really major storm that will get that tag. But it’s something that when we do have those major events, we can increase awareness,” Edwards said.

The NWS called the destructive thunderstorm category “needed” as it’s a life-threatening event

All NWS Severe Thunderstorm Warnings will continue to be issued and distributed via weather.gov, NOAA Weather Radio, Emergency Alert System and through dissemination systems to its emergency managers and partners. The addition of damage threat tags are part of the broader Hazard Simplification Project to improve communication of watches and warnings to the public, according to a release.

Thirteen of the 22 costliest weather disasters in 2020 in the United States were severe thunderstorms, the NWS said.

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Options being weighed for facility needs in Lincoln County schools

GRIFFITHSVILLE, W.Va. — Lincoln County School Superintendent Jeff Kelley said a report from a structural engineer last week about the building that houses Duval Elementary and Middle School was not a complete surprise and his office had been preparing for just such an emergency.

Jeff Kelley

The system received word that the building in Griffithsville will be condemned for occupancy due to structural issues.

Kelley said he and his team had begun working on a contingency plan earlier this year when another part of the building was forced to close and the county feared the worst.

“We had a template and we weren’t flying blind. We’ve been working on this and we hope to have something ironed out by the end of the week, but it’s going to require the relocation of most of our students,” Kelley explained Monday.

A plus for county officials is the PK-2 grades are housed in a different building and will be unaffected by any changes. Kelley said his staff has to worry about new quarters for students in grades 3 through 8. He said they have identified three different facilities to house those students depending on where they live.

“We’re speculating at this point, but we think we’re going to use Midway Elementary in Alum Creek, Hamlin PK-8 in Hamlin and we’ll be able to use our county board office facility as well,” he said.

Kelley and his team are just finalizing the immediate fix, but he knows the long-term fix is potential consolidation and new schools. The idea hasn’t sold well in the past in Lincoln County.

“I think the board here long before I arrived attempted to build a new school but couldn’t’ get the support locally. But we’re going to have to get the support so we can not arrive at situations like this in the future,” he said.

The Lincoln County school district is currently operating under a state of emergency from the state Board of Education for different reasons.

The state board extended the emergency declaration for another six months in early June. The approved motion said the next review would focus on the effectiveness of the Lincoln County BOE.

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Charleston man wanted in deadly shooting

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Charleston man is wanted for first-degree murder following a fatal shooting on Monday in the West Side section of the capital city.

Christopher Neil Smith

Charleston Police Department (CPD) said Christopher Neil Smith, 38, is wanted for first-degree murder and malicious wounding in a shooting that was reported around 12:15 p.m. in the 800 block of Stockton Street near the Family Dollar Store on West Washington Street.

Authorities arrived on scene to locate a first victim, Jay Jerome Henry Jr., 30 of Charleston, on the sidewalk in front of a residence with multiple gunshot wounds.

Upon further search of the area, officers located the second victim, Amanda Dawn Burdette, 35 of Charleston, inside an enclosed porch at the rear of the residence. Burdette sustained a gunshot wound to the chest. Both victims were transported to a local hospital.

Henry is currently in critical condition while Burdette was pronounced dead at the hospital.

CPD said upon further investigation, both victims were sitting in the enclosed porch when the Smith approached them. The victims and suspect got into an altercation over alleged stolen property. Smith then pulled out a firearm and shot both victims. Smith then fled the scene on foot, CPD said.

If anyone has any information regarding his whereabouts, contact the Criminal Investigation Division, 304-348-6480 or Metro Communications, 304-348-8111.

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West Virginians may weigh in on political redistricting, starting this week

House Speaker Roger Hanshaw wants to emphasize the voice citizens may have in the redistricting process for West Virginia elections.

“We hope that as many West Virginians as possible will come out and do that,” Hanshaw said today, describing a dozen meetings around the state about redistricting.

Public hearings about redistricting start this week. The first is 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Putnam County Judicial Building.

Roger Hanshaw

Speaking on MetroNews’ “Talkline,” Hanshaw said the purpose of the upcoming meetings is so citizens can describe what unites communities and how that should play a role in redistricting decisions.

One big issue will be how to divide West Virginia’s congressional districts. Early Census data concluded that West Virginia will lose one of its three seats in Congress. So how legislators split the remaining districts would determine which current representatives might wind up having to face off against each other.

“Sadly, West Virginia is going to lose a congressional district later this fall,” said Hanshaw, R-Clay. “So one of the decisions we have to make this fall is exactly how is that drawn.

“Should communities along the Ohio River be kept together? Should the two panhandles be kept together? How do we treat the portions of West Virginia, which, even though we are a small state are quite unique and quite diverse.”

Representatives of West Virginia’s Legislature will also map out revised districts for the state Senate and House of Delegates. House members will be divided into single-member districts, a process that started years ago.

.@SpeakerHanshaw, WV House Speaker, talks with @DaveWilsonMN about redistricting and the letter to CISA about Mylan in regards to its closure and attempting to have the facility declared critical infrastructure. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/sGuPqtZCwa

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) July 26, 2021

The Senate and the House of Delegates each voted during interim meetings this week to create select committees on redistricting, which is a process to establish new legislative districts after the 10-year federal Census.

The Joint Committee on Redistricting will be led by Senator Charles Trump, R-Morgan, and Delegate Gary Howell, R-Mineral.

Other members include senators Trump, Dave Sypolt,  Mike Caputo, Glenn Jeffries. Rupie Phillips. Chandler Swope. Eric Tarr, Ryan Weld and Mike Woelfel as well as delegates Amy Summers, Bill Anderson, Brent Boggs, Nathan Brown, Moore Capito, Paul Espinosa, Shawn Fluharty, Geoff Foster, Marty Gearheart, Sean Hornbuckle, Eric Householder, David Kelly. Kayla Kessinger, Daniel Linville, Zach Maynard, Jeff Pack, Matt Rohrbach, Ruth Rowan, Doug Skaff, Joe Statler, Erikka Storch, Steve Westfall and John Williams.

All 12 in-person public hearings will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. to start the sign-in process. Anyone who would like to be guaranteed an opportunity speak during the hearings will need to be present to sign in by 6 p.m.

Events will start shortly after 6 p.m. with welcome remarks and a reminder about procedures.

The amount of time for each person to speak will be determined by dividing the two hours by the number of people who sign in to participate.

A red light will indicate when each speaker has reached the time limit and will be asked to conclude his or her remarks before announcing the next speaker.

Those who attend will be given an informational brochure with reminders of how the redistricting process works according to the state Constitution, as well as information about how to provide suggestions throughout the process.

Hearings are scheduled for the following dates and locations, and are subject to change:

July 27: Putnam County Judicial Building, The Courtroom, Room 202

12093 Winfield Road Winfield, WV 25213

July 29: Chief Logan Lodge Hotel Conference Center

1000 Conference Center Drive, Logan, WV 25601

Aug. 3: Tamarack, Gov. Hulett C. Smith Theater

1 Tamarack Park, Beckley, WV 25801

Aug. 4: Summersville Arena & Conference Center

3 Armory Way, Summersville, WV 26651

Aug. 10: Stonewall Resort State Park, Birch Room

149 State Park Trail, Roanoke, WV 26447

Aug. 12: Monongalia County Extension Services & 4H Center at Mylan Park

270 Mylan Park Lane, Morgantown, WV 26501

Aug. 17: Martinsburg Sheriff’s Office Meeting Room

510 S Raleigh St, Martinsburg, WV 25401

Aug. 18: Keyser VFD Station 2

1550 Cornell St Keyser WV 26726

Aug. 24: Wheeling Independence Hall

1528 Market St, Wheeling, WV 26003

Aug. 26: Cabell County Courthouse, Courtroom #1 Judge Paul Farrell’s courtroom

750 5th Ave, Huntington, WV 25701

Sept. 9: The Culture Center, Building 9, Capitol Complex

1900 Kanawha Blvd. E., Charleston, WV 25305

Sept. 16: Judge Donald F. Black Courthouse Annex

317 Market St, Parkersburg, WV 26101

Dates for three virtual public hearings will be announced at a later date. Once the initial plans are completed by the Joint Committee on Redistricting, the House and Senate will generate the necessary reports and maps to draft redistricting bills.

“They’re about giving people an opportunity to come out and meet face-to-face with our redistricting committee members and get their input,” Hanshaw said.

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WV County Clerks Conference highlights clean voter registration list ahead of 2022

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia has the cleanest voting registration list in state history, Secretary of State Mac Warner told all 55 County Clerks at their conference in Bridgeport Monday.

“We have zero counties that have more registered voters than they do people of voting age in the population,” Warner said.

The state has removed 366,000 names or about 25 percent of their voter registration list. Those names include duplicates, deceased and convicted felon voter files that were removed.

“That list maintenance clean up that the clerks’ have accomplished, coupled with voter ID and other security protocols that we have put into place here in West Virginia is what has thrust West Virginia to the top in confidence in elections throughout the United States,” Warner said.

The West Virginia County Clerks Conference, held in Bridgeport, gives county clerks a chance to talk about the past election. It also gives clerks the opportunity to learn about new technology and laws for upcoming elections.

“I think we’re going to see a growth and expansion in electronic voting to support all of our active duty military who are serving oversees in harms way. How would they vote if an election came up?” Warner said.

U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) were on hand Monday to discuss nuances of the For the People Act, a federal bill to increase voter options, ensure access to the polls and address campaign financing. Senate Republicans blocked the measure last month.

“Those senators pleaded with the county clerks to continue the dialogue and to continue talking to them about the ground truth here in West Virginia and in their specific counties,” Warner said.

Since Warner took office in 2017, he and the clerks have registered more than 250,000 new voters in West Virginia.

The conference runs through Tuesday.

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Office of Medical Cannabis leader impressed with turnout of registration event; looks to expand

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Based on the turnout Monday in Charleston, the state Department of Health and Human Resources’ Office of Medical Cannabis is looking ahead to host more in-person registration events throughout West Virginia for medical cannabis.

Patients interested in signing up for West Virginia’s new medical marijuana program did so at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department with reps from the office there, including director Jason Frame, in anticipation of dispensaries opening this fall.

Frame told MetroNews the morning hours were busy and saw people come from around the Kanawha Valley including more than one hour away.

“Based on what we’ve seen today (Monday), I think we’ll expand this to other areas in the state. It’s gone well so far and we expect to duplicate in other areas,” Frame said.

Frame said the reason for the signup event is to bring access to the people who may not have reliable internet at home or their devices are not compatible with the office’s system.

There have been over 2,500 patient applications since registration began in February, according to Frame. He added the state has 10 growers, 10 processors and 100 dispensaries ready for opening.

Frame expects the patient numbers to continue to grow, especially with more in-person events.

“Today (Monday) is part of that. Adding patients that had difficulties accessing the system. As the industry matures throughout the state, we expect that number to continue to grow,” Frame said.

“Plants are growing in the state as we speak. That takes three to four months so we expect products to be available later this fall.”

For signup events, patients must have already seen a registered physician and bring the following items: Physician certification form; driver’s license, state ID, or passport; and proof of West Virginia residency, such as a utility bill or voter registration card.

If a patient registers by Sept. 30, their card is good for two years, according to the office’s website. Registration after Oct. 1 will result in a card that is good for one year. Patient cards are valid only in West Virginia.

MetroNews previously reported that those with a household income of 200 percent of the federal poverty level or less may apply for a waiver of the $50 state card fee. If a waiver is requested, applicants must provide documentation like a W2, paystub or proof of eligibility for low-income benefits.

Medical cannabis was legalized in the Mountain State with the signing of Senate Bill 386 on April 19, 2017. It created the Medical Cannabis Act that allows for cannabis to be used for certified medical use by a West Virginia resident with a serious medical condition to purchase the drug in forms of a pill, oil and topical forms including gels, creams, or ointments; as well as in a form of vaporization or nebulization, dry leaf, plant, tincture, liquid or dermal patch.

The Office of Medical Cannabis lists serious medical conditions under the Act as:

  • Cancer
  • Position status for human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
  • Epilepsy
  • Neuropathies
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Intractable seizures
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain
  • Terminal illness that is defined as a medical prognosis of life expectancy of approximately one year or less if the illness runs its normal course

Frame said state residents can register for a medical cannabis patient card at www.medcanwv.org or call the office at 304-356-5090.

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Justice lawyers say $58 million claims should be held up while federal lawsuit proceeds

Lawyers for Gov. Jim Justice and first lady Cathy Justice are arguing that a$58 million claim should be set aside until a separate lawsuit against their banker is resolved in federal court.

“If confessed judgment is not set aside, it will have sweeping consequences on the Justice family, their businesses and valued employees,” lawyers for the Justices wrote.

Carter Bank & Trust on July 6 filed claims based on recent defaults of The Greenbrier Sporting Club and Oakhurst Club.

The filings are confessions of judgment, written and signed agreements accepting liability in instances of default. In such circumstances, the note may be presented to the court without even notifying the debtor or having a hearing. By signing, a borrower may sacrifice their right to be heard in court.

Jim and Cathy Justice signed the guarantees during a broad, 2020 restructuring of the debt of family-owned companies. That document, which was filed in federal court, shows such guarantees were signed on loans representing millions of dollars in loans covering several Justice properties, with most coming due in October, 2022.

The loans for The Greenbrier Sporting Club and Oakhurst came due June 1. Carter Bank says the Justices owe $36,970,156 on the sporting club and $21,304,934 on the Oakhurst loan. Carter Bank is also asking for interest, late charges and attorneys fees amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars more.

But the lawyers for the Justices are countering that a federal lawsuit filed against Carter Bank should run its course before any action is taken on the default claims.

Justice and his companies sued the Martinsville, Va.,-based bank in federal court May 31 over the millions of dollars in loans that were coming due the next day. That lawsuit claimed the bank grew restrictive, the financial relationship grew toxic and the bank wouldn’t cooperate on refinancing loans coming due for Greenbrier properties.

Without a full hearing on the federal court claims, the Justice lawyers say, the confessions of judgment couldn’t be fairly assessed.

The Justice lawyers filed a motion to set aside the confessed judgments on July 22. That document was addressed to Ashby Pritchett, the circuit court clerk in Martinsville, Va., where Carter Bank is based.

“Given that any amount owed pursuant to the Confessed Judgment is entirely entwined with the outcome of the West Virginia Action, Carter Bank should not be allowed to enforce the Confessed Judgment until such time as the Justice Plaintiffs’ affirmative claims are fully resolved,” wrote lawyers for the Justices.

Lawyers for Carter Bank have contended the Justices’ federal lawsuit was meant as a delay tactic because of the defaults.

“Plaintiffs filed this case purely as a delay tactic against the repayments of loans they owe to Defendant Carter Bank,” wrote lawyers for the bank including Booth Goodwin, a former U.S. attorney who was Justice’s Democratic Primary opponent in the 2016 governor’s race.

Governor Justice has said the whole process should play out. He addressed the matter during a briefing last week when reporters asked his reaction to the $58 million claim.

“Absolutely at the end of the day if people will just be still and just wait for the final outcomes you’ll see a situation that will absolutely be the outcome of what your governor has already told you,” Justice said during a briefing last week.

“Just sit back and wait till the final outcomes. It could very well be be that someone wants to take a piece of what’s going on and ignore the whole. The whole is, we issued a lawsuit against this bank for $421 million. The piece of what we’re referring to here is next to nothing compared to the whole.”

The governor’s lawyers, in their recent filing in the Circuit Court of Martinsville, Va., suggested a lot is on the line.

“Before being elected governor, Mr. Justice founded and ran successful coal, farming and hospitality business. These operations employed thousands of individuals and have continuously operated for over 50 years,” they wrote.

“Without a trial on the merits, Carter Bank seeks a personal judgment. This is a drastic and disfavored remedy under the circumstances and Virginia law affords deference to individuals in these circumstances.”

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