West Virginia Record

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Unions' lawsuit against Beech Ridge Energy over wind power project removed to federal court

Federal Court

By Kyla Asbury | Jan 13, 2020

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BECKLEY – A lawsuit filed by two unions against Beech Ridge Energy II was removed to federal court.

The Charleston Building and Construction Trades Council-AFL-CIO and the West Virginia State Building and Construction Trades Council-AFL-CIO filed the lawsuit against Beech Ridge Energy II and Invenergy LLC in Greenbrier Circuit Court before it was removed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

"A defendant may remove a case from state to federal court where the federal court is able to exercise original jurisdiction over the matter. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a)," the notice of removal states. "Federal district courts have original jurisdiction over civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 1331."

The notice states that the presence or absence of federal question jurisdiction is governed by the well-pleaded complaint rule, which provides that a federal question must be presented on the face of the plaintiff’s properly pleaded complaint.

The notice also states that because the unions have a principal office in Charleston and represent members in Greenbrier and Kanawha counties, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia is the proper jurisdiction for the case.

The plaintiffs allege they entered into a contract with Beech Ridge in 2006 regarding the construction of wind power generating facilities in Greenbrier entitled memorandum of agreement (MOA) and in 2013, Beech Ridge obtained permission from the West Virginia Public Service Commission to construct additional wind power generating facilities in Greenbrier.

"The defendant, before the West Virginia Public Service Commission, repeatedly stated that it will be bound by the MOA for the construction of the facility," the complaint states.

The defendants allegedly then violated the MOA after beginning construction on the facility by failing to negotiate and enter into a project labor agreement (PLA) and contracting or subcontracting with a company or companies that have failed to perform all work on the facility in compliance with the MOA.

As a result of the defendants' alleged violations of the MOA, the plaintiffs and their members allegedly have lost employment and wages, health and pension and other benefits.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages for wages and benefits for the plaintiffs' members who lost employment. They are represented by Vincent Trivelli of The Law Office of Vincent Trivelli.

The defendants are represented by Chelsea E. Thompson, Kevin L. Carr and Megan W. Mullins of Spilman Thomas & Battle.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number 5:19-cv-00827

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