Ohio woman sues Indiana coal company

| Friday, March 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

An Indiana coal company was sued Thursday in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh by an Ohio woman who claims she was defrauded out of more than $550,000.

The lawsuit contends THL Coal Co. of Grant Township, Indiana County, failed to pay owner Norma Jean Spencer royalties from coal and stone mined at her 73-acre farm in East Mahoning Township in Indiana County for more than six years, starting in 2006.

In the lawsuit, Spencer contends the company used her royalties to finance expansion of an assisted living nursing home.

“... These conspirators lacked Mrs. Spencer's consent, or were either authorized or had legal justification to convert Mrs. Spencer's mineral interests in the Spencer Farm to the conspirators' use to operate and to build Crystal Waters (nursing home),” according to the lawsuit.

Contacted for comment Thursday, Thomas H. Loughry, a co-owner of the coal company with his brother, John W. Loughry, denied the allegations.

Thomas Loughry conceded he owes Spencer about $140,000 but that no money from her coal royalties was used to finance expansion of the nursing home, which he still owns.

“It was just a matter where the coal business was getting bad. I put over a half-million dollars from the nursing home into the coal business to keep up with the bills,” Loughry said.

Loughry said he obtained a loan for the coal company by telling the bank the money was designated for the nursing home construction.

“That was the only way to get the loan, to tell them we were adding more rooms. I felt that would generate revenue to do it this way,” Loughry said.

According to Spencer's lawsuit, she is seeking payment for lost royalties as well as other compensatory damages to pay for remediation of her farm. Loughry's coal company abandoned the site in 2012, according to the lawsuit.

“In its current unremediated state, recovery of the Spencer Farm is estimated at several millions of dollars, depending upon the conditions encountered during remediation,” the lawsuit said.

Spencer also seeks punitive damages.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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