Patriot Coal Corp.'s bankruptcy case has been moved from Manhattan to St. Louis, the United Mineworkers of America union said.
In a press release issued Tuesday afternoon, UMWA International President Cecil Roberts said, "The U.S. Bankruptcy Court made the right call today when it moved the Patriot Coal case from New York to St. Louis. Nobody has ever mined one ounce of coal in Manhattan."
The union, which organized a drive to have the case moved to the coalfields, contends that Patriot Coal executives set up two dummy corporations in New York "because they wanted their case heard in a forum far from the coalfields."
Roberts said Bankruptcy Judge Shelley Chapman "agreed with our argument about that, saying in her opinion that, 'this court cannot allow the debtor's venue choice to stand, as to do so would elevate form over substance in a way that would be an affront to the purpose of the bankruptcy venue statute and the integrity of the bankruptcy system.' "
Roberts noted that Patriot is headquartered in St. Louis.
"More important, it's the headquarters for Peabody Energy and Arch Coal," Roberts said. "These two companies spun off their operations to Patriot in an attempt to run away from pension and health care obligations to thousands of miners and their survivors."
Patriot Coal issued a prepared statement saying it respects the court's decision.
"We remain focused on using the reorganization process to ensure the company's future viability as a competitor and employer in a challenging market environment," the company said.
"We anticipate that the new court will become familiar with our case very quickly, and we remain committed to completing the reorganization as soon as possible and preserving the nearly 4,000 jobs at risk."
Patriot employs about 2,000 union workers at mines in West Virginia and Kentucky. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July, calling its pension and health care programs "unsustainable labor-related legacy liabilities."
Contact writer George Hohmann at busin...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.