February 5, 2010
Yesterday, Judge Irene Berger issued a continuance and delayed the federal hearing on Marfork Coal Company’s request for an injunction against activists associated with Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice. Marfork, Massey’s subsidiary operator on Coal River Mountain, filed in federal court for $75,000 in damages and filed a restraining order against five of the seven people arrested during the recent tree-sit. Marfork is asking that the defendants be restrained from trespassing “or otherwise congregating” on any mining property associated with Massey Energy. In its complaint, Marfork cites Climate Ground Zero’s unwavering commitment to a sustained campaign of civil disobedience as a justification for the injunction, stating: “Defendants and their cohorts affiliated with Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice, have represented by their words and proven through their actions that they will not be deterred by the imposition of a monetary fine or the prospect of serving a jail sentence for their criminal conduct, but will continue to trespass on mining properties operated by Marfork and other entities affiliated with A.T. Massey and Massey Energy.”
Judge Berger granted Marfork a temporary restraining order (TRO), and a hearing to extend the TRO into a full injunction was to be held yesterday, February 4, in Beckley. Earlier this week, we filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, as Marfork’s claim of $75,000 in damage contradicts their own public statement that the tree-sit did not stop operations at the Bee Tree Strip Mine. As tree-sitter Amber Nitchman put it: “It is ridiculous that Marfork claims that I did nothing to interfere with their work, and at the same time is asking me for $75,000 in damages. They should be the ones paying for damages. The citizens of Raleigh County deserve far more than $75,000 for the harm being done to their mountains, air, and water.”
The hearing has been continued until February 23, at 10 a.m., to give Marfork lawyers time to respond to our motion. Please stay tuned for any updates — we’ll be asking for as many people as possible to show up in federal court as we put Massey and mountaintop removal on trial.
Relevant court documents can be found here.