WHEELING – Circuit Judge Arthur Recht froze a mass of personal injury suits against Philip Morris last winter, and as summer ends he invites either side to thaw it out.
Recht signed an order Aug. 21, exempting "urgent matters" from a stay he imposed on 942 smoker suits in February.
"It's a pretty broad order," Recht said Aug. 26. "If they feel there is an issue that needs to be addressed they can file a motion.
"Leave it wide open. Whatever happens on either side, they can request a hearing on an ad hoc basis. Something may come up that you don't anticipate."
Recht stayed the suits so he could await a decision in a tobacco suit before the U.S. Supreme Court.
His Aug. 21 modifying order applies to "any unforeseeable matters of great urgency which demand attention in order to avoid substantial injustice upon which specific findings have been made by the circuit court."
Recht presides over tobacco suits from many counties under special assignment from the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.
Cindy Kiblinger of Charleston leads the legal team for the plaintiffs.
Pamela Campbell of Charleston represents Philip Morris.