Wouldn’t it be nice to have your own judge, one you could count on to rule in your favor and so solicitous that he’d even let you write opinions for him?
Such a justice might not dispense justice, but he would surely make you and your clients happy and advance your career.
There must be some justification for Marshall County Circuit Court Judge David Hummel, Jr. taking an opinion written by counsel appearing before him and passing it off as his own. But he might want to share the explanation with other parties involved in the case who look to the court for objectivity and fairness in its decision-making process.
“The Final Order signed by the court, except for footnote 1 and a conclusory sentence in par. C (overruling Intervenors’ objections) was prepared by class counsel and/or defense counsel and forwarded to the court prior to the Fairness Hearing of May 1, 2013,” intervenors asserted, “and, therefore, fails to include in it or demonstrate the reasoning behind the court’s conclusory finding that the settlement was fair, adequate and reasonable in the face of the detailed objections raised by Intervenor Objectors at the fairness hearing.”
Hummel approved a class action settlement providing more than $6 million for free medical examinations for workers exposed to “floc” (polyacrylamide) at coal and water treatment plants, with plaintiffs lawyers receiving a like amount in fees and costs.
Among other things, intervenors objected that class members would likely use only $600,000 of the medical monitoring plan, leaving a cy pres award (to West Virginia and Marshall universities) of $6 million and no tangible benefit to class members.
In May, Hummel entered an order denying the objections of intervenors. In August, he ruled against their motion to reconsider.
Intervenors have appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court, where the judge is likely to be Hummeliated.