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Molinary v. Powell Mountain Coal Co.

Citation: 29 ELR 21128
(04/02/1999)

The court affirms the dismissal of a land trust's action alleging that a coal company that owned the mineral rights to a tract of the trust's land violated the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) and other federal and state laws. The trust alleged that the company's failure to comply with state permitting regulations proximately caused the improper issuance of a SMCRA permit and resulted in auger mining on the trust's land. The district court originally found the company liable under SMCRA, but entered summary judgment in favor of the company on the other claims. On appeal, the Fourth Circuit vacated the district court's final judgment pertaining to the company's SMCRA liability. On remand, the district court entered final judgment on the SMCRA claim in favor of the company and held that the SMCRA claim was the sole claim before it. The court first holds that its vacatur order applied only to the SMCRA claim. The vacatur did not make the other claims ripe for relitigation in the district court. Thus, the district court's dismissal of the entire case on remand after resolving the SMCRA claim was proper.

[Prior decisions in this litigation are published at 24 ELR 20359 and 28 ELR 20035.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
Walton D. Morris Jr.
Morris & Peca
540 Arrowhead Dr., Charlottesville VA 22906
(804) 978-1694

Counsel for Defendant
Stephen M. Hodges
Penn, Stuart & Eskridge
Virginia House
208 E. Main St., Abingdon VA 24212
(540) 628-5151

Before Wilkins, Niemeyer, and Hamilton, JJ.