CHARLESTON -- West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret Workman on Monday appointed Ninth Judicial Circuit Judge Derek Swope to preside in a class action lawsuit in Putnam County.

Workman said Swope, a member of the Mass Litigation Panel, will sit in for Twenty-Ninth Judicial Circuit Judge O.C. Spaulding, who stepped aside from the case on Friday due to illness.

Spaulding announced that he has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a degenerative motor neuron disease.

The trial of Bibb et. al. v. Monsanto, Putnam County case No. 04-C-465, was scheduled to begin on Sept. 6.

However, Swope, one of three circuit judges in Mercer County, entered an order Monday postponing the jury trial. His order also sets aside all previous scheduling orders in the case.

Instead, he has scheduled a status conference for 12:15 p.m. Sept. 6 via telephone. At that time, the parties will discuss rescheduling the trial.

Workman previously appointed Senior Status Judge James Holliday to preside in other cases on Spaulding's docket during the Monsanto trial, which is expected to last several months.

Holliday will continue to provide assistance in the Twenty-Ninth Circuit as needed during Spaulding's illness, according to the Court.

"Judge Spaulding is one of the most outstanding jurists in West Virginia, and one of the finest people I know. I speak for entire Supreme Court when I say that we wish him well as he addresses his illness," Workman said in a statement Monday.

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