The Price of Justice: A True Story of Greed and Corruption is a story of corporate corruption so far-reaching and devastating it could have been written a hundred years ago by Ida Tarbell or Lincoln Steffens. And as Laurence Leamer (Nepal 1964-66) demonstrates in this captivating tale, because it’s true, it’s scarier than fiction.
This nonfiction legal thriller traces the fourteen-year struggle of two lawyers to bring the most powerful coal baron in American history, Don Blankenship, to justice.
Don Blankenship, head of Massey Energy since the early 1990s, ran an industry that provides nearly half of America’s electric power. But wealth and influence weren’t enough for Blankenship and his company, as they set about destroying corporate and personal rivals, challenging the Constitution, purchasing the West Virginia judiciary, and willfully disregarding safety standards in the company’s mines-in which scores died unnecessarily.
As Blankenship hobnobbed with a West Virginia Supreme Court justice in France, his company polluted the drinking water of hundreds of citizens while he himself fostered baroque vendettas against anyone who dared challenge his sovereignty over coal country.
The only thing that stood in the way of Blankenship’s tyranny over a state and an industry was a pair of odd-couple attorneys, Dave Fawcett and Bruce Stanley, who undertook a legal quest to bring justice to this corner of America. From the backwoods courtrooms of West Virginia they pursued their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and to a dramatic decision declaring that the wealthy and powerful are not entitled to purchase their own brand of law.
For more on this case in West Virginia, check out Leamer’s column on Huffingtonpost, 2/11/2013
Here are a few blurbs about it from lawyers across the country.
“Laurence Leamer does a superb job of condensing this 15-year legal brawl into a highly readable and entertaining narrative. Greed, arrogance, injustice, corruption – it has it all, and, sadly, it’s all true. Fortunately, it also has some heroes. This is a book I wish I had written.” -John Grisham
“Don Blankenship and Massey Energy have caused catastrophic environmental damage in Appalachia. But thanks to two intrepid lawyers, there is hope in the ravaged land. The Price of Justice is bound to be an environmental and legal classic.”–Bobby Kennedy Jr. Senior attorney for Natural Resources Defense Council and President, Waterkeeper Alliance
“The Price of Justice is the nail biting, harrowing story of two courageous trial lawyers’ facing down corporate greed, wall street law firms, powerful politicians and corrupt judges in the hard scrabble and dangerous coal fields of West Virginia to protect the safety of miners and the health of our nation. I have nothing but admiration for these lawyers and this modern-day David and Goliath tale.” -Morris Dees Founder and Chief Trial Counsel Southern Poverty Law Center
“A gripping, suspenseful page-turner that reads like fiction and reinforces- with sometimes shocking, tragic clarity- the necessity of a fair justice system for all. This is an important, compelling, powerful book.–Judge Ken Starr, President of Baylor University
“Laurence Leamer has produced a masterful legal thriller that will stun readers at every page. . . a riveting story of intrigue, corrupt politics, and the corrosive effects of power if left unchecked. This book is a tour-de-force; it will stand up against the best legal dramas of our time.”– Ken Gormley, bestselling author of The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr
“In this engaging narrative, Laurence Leamer shows how money corrupts both politics and the law. A disturbing warning in this era of increasingly unregulated campaign money, including in judicial elections, The Price of Justice is priceless.”– Adam Winkler Author of Gunfight and Professor of Law