W.Va. Supreme Court overturns damages, orders new trial in bulldozed cemetery case


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CHARLESTON, West Virginia — The West Virginia Supreme Court has ordered a new trial in a case involving a cemetery damaged by a bulldozer.

The court says in a ruling issued Friday that the jury received erroneous instructions from the circuit court. The ruling overturned $700,000 in compensatory damages and $200,000 in punitive damages awarded to the plaintiffs by the jury.

The 2006 lawsuit was filed by 14 people whose relatives were buried in Crystal Block Cemetery near a historically black coal camp community in Logan County. The lawsuit accused Equitable Production Co. and subcontractor General Pipeline of negligence and desecration of grave sites. Equitable is now EQT Corp.

In 2004, a bulldozer operator damaged grave sites while building a road to a drilling site.

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