West Virginia Radio Corp. suit moving to business court


GavelLooks like West Virginia Radio Corp.’s move to disqualify a judge from hearing its lawsuit may have been granted—in a way. The Dominion Post reports that the company consented to the case’s transfer on 9/30 the state’s business court.

The suit centers on how West Virginia University awarded a media rights contract. The transfer of the case from Monongalia County Circuit Court was requested by defendants IMG College, West Virginia Media Holdings and its president and CEO, and the WVU Foundation, reported The AP.

The Business Court Division handles litigation involving business disputes and commercial issues.

West Virginia Radio’s lawsuit seeks to stop WVU from finalizing a 12-year contract for media rights to certain athletic events. The network also wants the contract to be rebid, with North Carolina-based IMG and West Virginia Media Holdings barred from the process.

In July, West Virginia Radio Corp. wanted Judge Phillip Gaujot disqualified from hearing its lawsuit over a West Virginia University sports rights contract, arguing he has a personal bias against Robert Gwynne, attorney for its parent company, Greer Industries. The motion filed 7/11 in Monongalia County Circuit Court says Gaujot’s impartiality is questionable because the judge and Gwynne clashed at a July 4th party in 1987 over a guest that Gwynne had invited. The motion says Gaujot took the man’s presence as an insult and refused to accept Gwynne’s apology. It also contends the judge warned Gwynne, “paybacks are hell.”

WVU’s broadcast rights are currently handled by the university-operated Mountaineer Sports Network.

West Virginia Radio Corp. is owned by Morgantown, WV businessman John Raese. The company announced in June that it isn’t bidding on a 12-year contract for multimedia rights to some West Virginia University athletic events and sued to try to stop both IMG and West Virginia Media Holdings from participating in bidding.

WVU rebid the contract, because a review by the state AG’s office found “significant errors and sloppiness” in how a previous deal was formed.

Five companies, including IMG and West Virginia Radio Corp., participated in a pre-bid conference in May that also included Nelligan Sports Marketing, Learfield Communications and FOX Run Group.

Raese’s attorney said the 15-page protest filed 6/12 claims allowing participation in the bidding by either North Carolina-based IMG or West Virginia Media Holdings effectively “turns a blind eye to the confirmed breaches of public trust and confidence.”

Meanwhile, WVU awarded the deal to IMG College and will reap at least $80 million from it. The new partnership is effective this fall.

See the AP story here