CHARLESTON - A coal mining company accused of contaminating groundwater is suing the law firm that has filed a lawsuit against it, claiming those attorneys have done damage to its reputation.
Rawl Sales and Processing Company filed the lawsuit April 24 in Kanawha Circuit Court and argue that Kevin Thompson and Martin R. Smith, Jr., of Charleston law firm Smith and Thompson, defamed its character in a letter to the Mingo County Commission.
Rawl Sales and Processing is currently facing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court that says it contaminated the well water of citizens in Rawl. Smith and Thompson represent Ira, Cathy, Amanda and Adam White in that lawsuit.
Rawl Sales and Processing's complaint in Kanawha Circuit Court states that Smith and Thompson sent a letter to Mingo County Commission member John Mark Hubbard that said: "We have collected a massive amount of evidence that proves beyond any doubt the water in the Forgotten Communities is deadly. Our evidence proves that Rawl Sales and Processing knowingly contaminated the water. Our evidence shows that they did it without permits. And, our evidence shows that the people of Rawl are slowly dying."
That evidence has yet to be proven correct in a court. The original motion against Rawl Sales and Processing is still pending.
Also in the letter, Thompson offered assistance to the Mingo County Commission in helping establish a new source of drinking water.
Daniel L. Stickler is representing Rawl Sales and Processing, which adds that Thompson's letter "contains defamatory statements that the groundwater in Rawl, Merrimac, Lick Creek and Sprigg is deadly; that Rawl has knowingly contaminated this water without a permit; and that its actions are killing the people of Rawl."
Rawl Sales and Processing says damage has been done to its reputation, good name and business because of the letter. It is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
Judge Jennifer Bailey Walker has been assigned the case.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-750