NEW ORLEANS – Another in a string of lawsuits has been filed against one of West Virginia Democratic
gubernatorial candidate Jim Justice’s companies for allegedly failing to pay more
than $400,000 in legal fees.
Phelps Dunbar LLP is suing James C. Justice Companies Inc. (JJC) in the U.S.
District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana alleging JJC owes
$409,535.35 in legal fees for services rendered since 2011, according to
a complaint filed Dec. 7 in federal court.
On Dec. 20, 2011, JJC retained Phelps to serve as counsel to defend it
in a lawsuit in federal court in Louisiana, and Phelps made an
appearance on behalf of JJC when the law firm filed its answer to the
complaint in the lawsuit on Jan. 4, 2012.
Phelps claims the litigation progressed for a number of years with the
firm continuing its representation of JJC throughout the litigation and,
as part of its representation, Phelps engaged in extensive discovery,
protracted motion practice and, eventually, briefing multiple appeals to
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
In addition and while the lawsuit was pending, a second lawsuit was
consolidated with the lawsuit involving one of JJC’s subsidiaries and
Phelps invoiced JJC for Phelps’ fees representing the subsidiary against
the allegations in the consolidated lawsuit, according to the suit.
Phelps claims on Feb. 29, 2012, it issued an invoice in the amount of
$4,873.56; on June 28, 2012, it issued an invoice in the amount of
$1,218.07; and on Feb. 28, 2013, Phelps issued an invoice in the amount
of $7,455.59. JJC paid the invoices in full and without objection on
June 21, 2013.
The plaintiff continued to regularly invoice JJC for its fees and costs
that the law firm incurred defending JJC in the lawsuit, however, JJC
failed to remit payment to Phelps for services rendered and reflected on
the invoices, according to the suit. In total, JJC is allegedly indebted to
Phelps in the amount o $409,535.35.
Phelps claims JJC is liable for the fees and is in breach of its contract with the law firm by failing to pay the legal fees.
Phelps is seeking a judgment in favor of the law firm and an award
of all legal and/or equitable relief, including interest and attorneys’
fees. The law firm is being represented by attorneys Harry Rosenberg and Tessa
Justice’s company has been involved in multiple lawsuits during the last
few years. In October, a lawsuit was filed against Greenbrier Hotel in
federal court in Virginia for failing to pay human resources staffing
Previously, Aspen Corp. sued the Greenbrier for $1.275 million, saying
it had failed to pay for work performed prior to the inaugural PGA
Greenbrier Classic tournament. An architect who oversaw the restoration
of the Greenbrier’s Old White Course for the PGA event also sued for
Earlier this year, two of Justice’s coal companies were sued for $2
million for not paying landowners for coal that was mined. In 2013,
seven of his companies were sued for $1.1 million in unpaid invoices. In
2011, Delta Air Lines sued the Greenbrier for $4 million over failure
to meet guaranteed minimum amounts in return for providing flights to
the local airport.
Critics say Justice companies also have a reputation for not paying
fines or taxes, and they claim Justice uses his business and political
connections to secure special deals and tax breaks for his companies.
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana case number: 2:15-cv-06522