News Around the State

Published 1:47 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Lawsuit: Gov. Jim Justice’s coal companies broke contract

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A lawsuit charges that two coal companies owned by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice breached a contract with an exporting company.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported Monday that a redacted, “public version” of the lawsuit was filed in federal court last week. The May lawsuit by Pennsylvania-based Xcoal Energy & Resources alleges Justice and the Virginia-based Southern Coal Corporation and Bluestone Energy Sales Corporation didn’t fulfill its coal order.

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Lawyers for Justice and his companies have denied the charge and said Xcoal had “unreasonable commercial demands” that went beyond the agreement’s scope.

Justice has said his children would handle the companies’ day-to-day operations. Justice’s 2018 financial disclosure statement filed with the state’s ethics commission says neither company mentioned in the lawsuit is in a blind trust.

McConnell leaves Ky. dinner amid more heckling over ICE

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Faced with chants of “no justice, no peace” and a blaring recording of “Fight the Power,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell abandoned his dinner at Kentucky restaurant.

The Courier Journal reports the protesters Sunday opposed the government’s immigration policy, and called for abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

McConnell faced similar protests outside another Louisville restaurant Saturday and at Georgetown University last month.

Four Pegs bartender Nick Hulstine says a trivia host told the bar’s patrons McConnell was across the street at Sarino and used his speaker to disrupt McConnell’s meal. Hulstine says Sarino’s chefs yelled at protesters.

Occupy ICE confirmed its members confronted McConnell.

McConnell’s spokeswoman declined to comment. The restaurant couldn’t be reached for comment.

Louisville Metro police spokesman Dwight Mitchell says no one was arrested or cited.

Patients seek class-action status for lawsuit over billing

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A lawsuit is seeking to stop the University of Kentucky and state Department of Revenue from garnishing people’s wages for unpaid medical bills.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported Monday that a group of people has asked Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate to grant class action status to the lawsuit. Lexington attorney Doug Richards says he’s been contacted by hundreds who feel they’ve been unfairly treated by UK HealthCare and the state.

The lawsuit says several plaintiffs eligible for Medicaid shouldn’t have received bills and later discovered they were being subtracted from their wages. It says Richards estimated the department collected $5,000 from one woman.

UK spokesman Jay Blanton says officials wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit. Department spokeswoman Pamela Trautner says the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

Inmate overpowers jailer on way to jail, steals car

INEZ, Ky. (AP) — Authorities in Kentucky say a man escaped from custody by overpowering a deputy jailer and stealing the transport vehicle.

Citing a statement from the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, news outlets report that Mark Allen Crouch assaulted and overpowered the deputy jailer while in transit to the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center after he was arrested Monday. He took the gray car he was riding in that has “Martin County Jailer” emblazoned on the side.

It’s unclear why Crouch was initially arrested. The sheriff’s office says Crouch is to be considered dangerous.

The condition of the deputy jailer hasn’t been released.

Water main breaks cause outage

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) — Two broken mains have caused a water outage in a Kentucky county, leading to the declaration of a state of emergency.

Daviess County Emergency Management Director Andy Ball tells news outlets that the early Monday breaks in front of Owensboro Municipal Utility’s plant have left some customers with mostly normal water pressure, others with just a trickle and many with no water at all. The county, which has a population of around 100,000, has declared a state of emergency to obtain aid from federal and state agencies.

The Owensboro utility says crews have excavated the area around the 20-inch and 24-inch breaks. But Ball says even if the repairs are made by Tuesday, the public health department could order the lines to be flushed.

Customers remain under a boil order.

State issues $1.5M fine to pharmacy benefit manager Caremark

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Department of Insurance has issued a $1.5 million civil penalty against pharmacy benefit manager CaremarkPCS for violations related to reimbursements to pharmacists.

The state agency also placed the provider’s license on probation for one year.

An order from the insurance department cites 454 violations related to reimbursement claim denials that were issued to Kentucky pharmacists, and 38 more violations where Caremark provided “inaccurate or inconsistent” information.

A news release says the department’s review of the 454 claims found discrepancies between Caremark’s pricing statements made to pharmacists and information provided to the Department of Insurance from the company.

CaremarkPCS Health, a subsidiary of CVS Caremark, is one of two CVS Caremark subsidiaries licensed to operate as a pharmacy benefit manager in Kentucky.

Ky. limestone to be used for new oyster reef off Texas

SAN LEON, Texas (AP) — Crews are putting millions of pounds of Kentucky limestone on the floor of a Texas bay for a 21-acre oyster reef on a private lease.

The Galveston County Daily News reports San Leon-based Prestige Oysters held a blessing ceremony Monday for the oyster cultch in Galveston Bay. The mass of stones, broken shells and grit will form the bed off San Leon, 40 miles southeast of Houston.

Hurricane Ike in 2008 battered the area’s oyster reefs.

Prestige Oysters vice president Raz Halili says it’s the first new reef on a private lease in the area in about 40 years.

Workers using a crane this week unloaded limestone onto boats for spreading on the bay floor. The site likely won’t have mature oysters for harvest for two or three years.

Later ‘gator: Mighty Mike leaving aquarium in fall

NEWPORT, Ky. (AP) — Visitors to the Newport Aquarium in northern Kentucky have two more months to see Mighty Mike, the largest American alligator outside of Florida.

The Kentucky Enquirer reports the aquarium is saying see you later to the alligator this fall. The last chance to see the 14-foot, 800-pound alligator before he heads back to Florida is Sept. 9.

Newport Aquarium Executive Director Eric Rose said in a statement that educating the public about alligators is critical to helping the animals sustain populations after being listed as endangered for decades.

After he leaves Kentucky, Mighty Mike will be taken to the Crocodilian Conservation Center in Frostproof, Florida.