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HOLLAND v. KING KNOB COAL CO.
March 2, 2000
MICHAEL H. HOLLAND, A. FRANK DUNHAM, MARTY D. HUDSON, AND ELLIOT A. SEGAL, AS TRUSTEES OF THE UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA 1992 BENEFIT PLAN, PLAINTIFFS,
KING KNOB COAL CO., INC.; ANKER ENERGY CORPORATION; AND RELIABLE COAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cindrich, District Judge.
This action arises from the defendants' alleged failure to pay
certain beneficiary premiums to a welfare benefit plan. As
trustees of the plan, plaintiffs Michael H. Holland, A. Frank
Dunham, Marty D. Hudson, and Elliot A. Segal (collectively
referred to as the "Trustees"), filed the instant suit to collect
such premiums from the defendants. Pending before the court is
the defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction and improper venue, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(2) and (3), or, in the alternative, to transfer venue to
the United States District Court for the Northern District of
West Virginia, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).
The Trustees brought the instant action to collect delinquent
monthly per beneficiary premiums and other amounts owed to the
United Mine Workers of America 1992 Benefit Plan (the "Plan") by
defendants King Knob Coal Co., Inc. ("King"); Anker Energy
Corporation ("Anker"); and Reliable Coal Corporation
("Reliable"). The Plan is an irrevocable trust fund created
pursuant to Section 9712 of the Coal Industry Retiree Health
Benefit Act of 1992 (the "Coal Act"), 26 U.S.C. § 9712,
which provides health benefits to certain retired coal miners.
The Plan is also an employee welfare benefit plan within the
meaning of Section 3(3) of the Employee Retirement Income
Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1002(3), and a
multiemployer plan within the meaning of Section 3(37) of ERISA,
29 U.S.C. § 1002(37). 26 U.S.C. § 9712(a)(2)(B) and
The Trustees contend that the defendants are "related persons"
under Section 9712(d)(4) of the Coal Act, 26 U.S.C. § 9712
(d)(4), and therefore, are jointly and severally liable for
amounts owed the Plan. The Trustees further contend that King is
a "1988 last signatory operator" as that term is defined in
Section 9712(d)(6) of the Act, 26 U.S.C. § 9712(d)(6).
The defendants contend that although the Trustees filed suit
under the Coal Act, which provides for nationwide service of
process, the assertion of personal jurisdiction must satisfy the
due process standards of the Fifth Amendment to the United States
Constitution which requires an analysis of fundamental fairness
considerations to determine if such jurisdiction exists. They
maintain that the court's exercise of personal jurisdiction over
them would violate these fundamental due process principles. The
defendants state in support of their motion that:
— King is a West Virginia corporation with an office
in Morgantown, West Virginia;
— King is not a foreign business registered to
conduct business in Pennsylvania and does not
conduct business in the state;
— Reliable was dissolved on June 23, 1983 and has not
conducted any business since that time;
— At the time of its dissolution, Reliable was
wholly-owned by King;
— Anker is a Delaware corporation with an office in
— Anker is registered to do business in Pennsylvania,
however, it has no office or coal mines in the
Western District of Pennsylvania and does not own
any property in that jurisdiction;
— The three defendants neither reside nor conduct
their normal business of mining coal in the Western
District of Pennsylvania; and
— All of the defendants' books, records and personal
knowledge about the subject matter are ...
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