Coal bankruptcy judge asks company to explain attorney costs

Published 9:04 am Friday, December 6, 2019

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A judge has ordered a bankrupt coal company to provide more information about over $73,000 in expenses accrued by its attorneys while miners awaited back pay.

Attorneys for Blackjewel have asked the court to approve reimbursement for a range of expenses including meals, transportation and hotel stays.

U.S. District Judge Frank Volk in West Virginia’s Southern District told Blackjewel to itemize about 75 of the requests and he questioned decisions to stay at high-end hotels and eat exorbitant meals.

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The cost of one single-night hotel stay topped $982.

The company also requested $378 in reimbursement for a lunch from a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop on Aug. 5.

“How many individuals were involved in this Jimmy John’s lunch?” the judge wrote in a court filing.

Volk ordered Blackjewel to respond no later than Dec. 13, the Casper Star-Tribune reports.

Blackjewel owed over $146 million in taxes, $700,000 in wages to Wyoming workers and $900,000 in retirement funds when it filed for bankruptcy July 1.

Several of the company’s facilities in West Virginia, as well as its vast Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines in Wyoming, closed or maintained minimal operations until shortly after their sale to another company in October.

Blackjewel remains in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.