An insurance company has agreed to settle its federal lawsuit against a company consisting of Gov. Jim Justice and his adult children.
New York-based Starr Indemnity & Liability Co. had sued Justice Family Group LLC in May, claiming the latter owed $166,000 for claims that it submitted for coverage under workers’ compensation and employers’ liability insurance policies.
Under the settlement agreement entered on Sept. 9 and approved by U.S. District Judge Frank W. Volk, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia will retain jurisdiction over the case to enforce the undisclosed terms of the parties’ settlement through May 15, 2022 — or earlier if the parties fully comply with the agreement.
Starr Indemnity & Liability alleged in its lawsuit, filed May 4, that Justice Family Group failed and refused to pay deductibles due under policies covering June 1, 2018, to June 1, 2020, that provided insurance coverage for the Justice company’s liabilities.
Both policies have per-accident deductibles of $1 million when a bodily injury occurs by accident, and per-employee deductibles of $1 million when a bodily injury occurs by disease, the lawsuit alleged.
Justice Family Group is a limited liability company in the Management of Companies and Enterprises sector, according to the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office. That sector includes establishments that hold securities of companies to own a controlling interest in them, making or influencing their management decisions, per the federal North American Industry Classification System.
The Governor’s Office and legal counsel for Starr Indemnity & Liability did not respond to requests for comment. The Justice Family Group could be reached for comment.
The lawsuit listed Justice, his son, James Justice III, and his daughter, Jillean Justice, as the company’s members. The Secretary of State’s Office lists the latter two as managers of the company, which shares an address with The Greenbrier, the Justice-owned resort in White Sulphur Springs.
Justice said he would put his children in charge of his family’s business operations upon becoming governor in 2017. Justice listed Justice Family Group LLC as one of his more than 100 businesses on his 2021 financial disclosure form, filed with the West Virginia Ethics Commission in January.
Another Justice-owned company, Bluestone Resources, nearly had a lapse in workers’ compensation coverage in July.
The West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner learned the workers’ compensation insurance policy issued to Bluestone Resources, a coal company, was canceled at 12:01 a.m. on July 19, Erin Hunter, Offices of the Insurance Commissioner deputy commissioner and general counsel, said following a Gazette-Mail Freedom of Information Act request filed with the offices.
The request revealed correspondence from the offices to Bluestone Resources, James Justice III, Jillean Justice and other executives dated July 19 and July 20 informing them that Bluestone was operating illegally in the state because it failed to maintain mandatory workers’ compensation coverage and was considered an uninsured employer.
But the insurer, Liberty Mutual, informed Bluestone Resources Inc. and the state insurance commissioner offices on July 21 that the policy was reinstated without any lapse in coverage on July 21 back to its original cancellation date and time, according to Liberty Mutual correspondence to both parties.
Bluestone Resources and other entities covered under the policy no longer are considered uninsured employers, Hunter noted. Neither Gov. Justice nor his children are listed as owners of businesses listed in the West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner Employer Violator System listing businesses and business owners who are delinquent or in default on their workers’ compensation obligations.
The insurance commissioner offices are not aware of any prior coverage lapses involving workers’ compensation insurance policies issued to Bluestone Resources, Hunter said.
Brief interruptions in coverage have been more common for Bluestone coal company retirees, according to four retired miners and the United Mine Workers union, who filed a federal lawsuit in 2019 asking the court to stop four Justice coal companies from terminating employer benefit plans for retired miners, their spouses and dependents.
The lawsuit said the companies refused to pay for medical and prescription benefits in accordance with a collective bargaining agreement with the union starting at the end of 2016. In June, the four miners and the UMW alleged the Justice companies — Justice Energy Co. Inc., Keystone Service Industries, Bluestone Coal Corp., Double-Bonus Coal Co. and Southern Coal Corp. — had allowed a lapse in prescription drug coverage for the 10th time in 8 1/2 months.
The plaintiffs said the lapses created a pattern of retirees not being able to fill prescriptions for critical health treatment.
The UMW and retired miners withdrew a pending contempt motion in July, reserving the right to renew it if the companies fail to comply with a June 3 consent order requiring them to provide uninterrupted health care and drug coverage.
The Justice family’s financial troubles have spilled over into court repeatedly in recent months.
Justice and his wife, Cathy, and their son and three family companies sued Greensill Capital Limited in federal court in New York in March. Their lawsuit alleges the global lender committed fraud in a long-term financing arrangement that included Bluestone paying $108 million in fees and another $100 million in warrants to purchase stakes in the coal company.
The governor acknowledged in June that he personally guaranteed loans from Greensill that The Wall Street Journal reported totaled nearly $700 million.
Justice, his wife and son and 11 family businesses, including The Greenbrier Hotel Corp. and Greenbrier-related sports and recreation entities, and Carter Bank & Trust dropped lawsuits against each other earlier this month after reaching a settlement. The Justices had sought at least $421 million in damages, which they alleged induced them into loan defaults.