WHEELING – U.S. District Judge Frederick Stamp has denied a motion to dismiss CSX railroad's fraud conspiracy claim against Bridgeport radiologist Ray Harron.
Harron must now defend himself in Stamp's court against an allegation that he falsified a diagnosis of Earl Baylor so lawyers could file an asbestos suit.
Harron argued that the claim did not meet a $75,000 minimum for federal jurisdiction, but Stamp found that CSX has spent more than that on legal fees.
CSX told Stamp it spent about $76,000 defending Baylor's claim in state court and about $68,000 investigating and prosecuting the fraud claim in Stamp's court.
CSX also urged Stamp to add possible punitive damages to the calculation.
"This court finds that the estimate of attorneys' fees provided by CSX, combined with the possibility of punitive damages, is sufficient to establish diversity jurisdiction in this case," Stamp wrote in a Feb. 19 order.
"It is well established that under West Virginia law, a plaintiff who has been injured by the fraudulent conduct of a defendant is entitled to an award of attorneys' fees," he wrote.
"This court also notes that Dr. Harron does not dispute the availability of punitive damages in this case, only that punitive damages do not satisfy the jurisdictional amount in controversy," he wrote.
CSX also seeks damages from Pittsburgh lawyers Robert Peirce, Louis Raimond, Mark Coulter and Robert Gilkison.