Small-business owners in the coalfields of Appalachia are complaining about debts owed to them by a West Virginia billionaire who owns dozens of mines.
Some of the businesses have filed lawsuits against Jim Justice claiming they performed work for the billionaire's companies but were never paid.
Justice acknowledged his coal mines have some debts to vendors but said they will all be paid. He tells the Associated Press his mines are struggling and the tough economic times may cause "the death of the coal industry." Justice owns the Greenbrier Hotel and is worth an estimated $1.7 billion.
The AP found five lawsuits filed against Justice seeking unpaid debts since the beginning of 2012 in Kentucky. Four more have been filed since 2011 in Tennessee and Virginia.