As a former Justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, Judge Arthur Recht knows how to make a point so no one can misunderstand.
In a Jan. 18 order dismissing flood suits from the Coal River watershed, Recht boiled the matter down to two questions and a snappy answer:
"May plaintiffs, under the guise of so-called 'mass litigation,' file complaints in which scores or hundreds or thousands of plaintiffs collectively sue scores or hundreds of defendants collectively and indiscriminately upon the same generic factual allegations without having any specific factual basis indicating actionable conduct on the part of any defendant with respect to any plaintiff?
"If they have filed such complaints without factual bases, may they survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim or for judgment on the pleadings by arguing that they may find such factual bases later through discovery?
"This Court is of the opinion that our system of justice does not contemplate or permit plaintiffs to bring suits implicating scores or hundreds of defendants without a factual basis as to any of them and then attempt through discovery to identify such bases, and accordingly answers these questions 'no.'"