Wrongful Death Suits Filed Against Massey Over West Virginia Mine Blast
The families of two coal miners killed in the Upper Big Branch mine blast in West Virginia last year have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the mine's owner Massey Energy Company. The families said, it was a catastrophe waiting to happen. The suits were filed a week after Massey's head of security at the mine was charged with impeding investigators. This explosion was the worst U.S. mine accident in four decades, killing 29 miners.
The families of Joe Marcum and Adam Morgan, who died in the explosion, are seeking compensatory and punitive damages as a result of the willful, wanton and recklessly unsafe manner" in which Massey operated the mine. The complaints show that Massey had an abysmal safety record and the number of federal safety violations doubled between 2008 and 2009. The then CEO Don Blankenship knew about the doubling of the federal violations. A third lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Stanley Stewart, who survived the explosion.
The final report has not been filed by federal Mine Safety and Health Administration yet, but the preliminary findings state that the mine was not properly treated with crushed limestone to prevent the buildup of the explosive coal dust. Other preliminary findings include the water spray nozzles on mining equipment were not operating properly to prevent sparks and reduce the coal dust.
Massey reached a settlement with seven of victim's families, and Massey has offered $ 3 million to settle any claims against the company. The MSHA reports the mine was cited 38 times for mine ventilation violations and 37 times for unsafe accommodations of combustible materials like coal dust.
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