Production company asks judge to dismiss Murray suit against John Oliver

By Kyla Asbury | Oct 6, 2017

MOUNDSVILLE – Partially Important Productions is asking Marshall Circuit Judge Jeffrey D. Cramer to dismiss Bob Murray’s lawsuit against John Oliver and his HBO show.

MOUNDSVILLE – Partially Important Productions is asking Marshall Circuit Judge Jeffrey D. Cramer to dismiss Bob Murray’s lawsuit against John Oliver and his HBO show.

The motion to dismiss was filed Sept. 18 in Marshall Circuit Court. Partially Important Productions is seeking dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction.

“Plaintiffs do not allege, and cannot establish, that Defendant Partially Important Productions, LLC — the company that produces 'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver' — has contacts with the state of West Virginia sufficient to satisfy either the West Virginia long-arm statute or the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” the memorandum states. “The Court should, therefore, dismiss Partially Important Productions from this case for lack of personal jurisdiction.”

PIP argues that the complaint does not, and cannot, allege that PIP was organized or incorporated in West Virginia, has its principal place of business there or engages in routine business there.

“The Complaint alleges that Partially Important Productions was involved in writing the June 18, 2017 episode that is the subject of this lawsuit, but fails to allege any connection between the production of that episode and West Virginia,” the memorandum states. “For example, the Complaint does not — because it cannot — allege that the episode was written or produced in West Virginia, that its substantive focus was West Virginia, that it was specifically aimed at a West Virginia audience, or that the focal point of its alleged harm was West Virginia.”

To the contrary — and as conceded in the complaint — PIP says the June 18 episode of "Last Week Tonight" was, like all other episodes of "Last Week Tonight," aimed at a national audience, and discussed events throughout the United States.

“The episode only mentioned West Virginia twice, and never in connection to Plaintiffs,” the memorandum states. “Most of the episode was not even about the Plaintiffs, who are not even themselves West Virginia residents. In the absence of any substantial connection between West Virginia and Partially Important Productions, dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction is required.”

Murray's lawsuit claims that Oliver portrayed his companies unfairly in a commentary about President Donald Trump's generous treatment of the coal industry.

The lawsuit alleged Oliver made defamatory statements about Murray, a 2007 deadly mine collapse and a labor dispute. Oliver also called Murray a geriatric “Dr. Evil.”

Murray, along with Murray Energy, The Marshall County Coal Company, The Marion County Coal Company, The Monongalia County Coal Company, The Harrison County Coal Company and The Ohio County Coal Company filed the lawsuit June 22 in Marshall Circuit Court. It was removed to federal court, but was then remanded back to state court.

Murray and his companies are being represented by Jeffrey A. Grove and David L. Delk Jr. of Grove, Holmstrand & Delk.

The defendants are being represented by Williams & Connolly and Fitzsimmons Law Firm. 

Marshall Circuit Court case number: 17-C-124

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Organizations in this Story

Fitzsimmons Law Firm, PLLC Grove, Homstrand & Delk PLLC Marshall Circuit Court

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