Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Families Reach Settlement In Death Of WV Miners

USA Today reported yesterday that Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources, which bought the mine from Massey Energy last summer, reached a settlement in the wrongful death lawsuits filed by the families of those killed in the April 2010 blast, which was the worst mine disaster in nearly 40 years. 

The company did not confirm the agreement, but attorney Mark Moreland confirmed that the deal was struck on Tuesday.  Moreland would not disclose the details of the agreement, saying only that it was "compensation."  The NonProfit Times reported on this disaster in 2010, in a piece about Black Lung Trusts.

These were the final 13 lawsuits remaining.  Some had already been settled, including a $210-million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice in December that spared Alpha Natural Resources from criminal prosecution.  Individuals from the corporation, however, can still be prosecuted.  Former security chief Hughie Elbert Stover has already been convicted of lying to investigators and destroying mine records.  He is currently awaiting sentencing.

Investigation into the Upper Big Branch blast by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the United Mine Workers of America and an independent panel appointed by former Gov. Joe Manchin concluded that Massey had allowed highly explosive methane gas and coal dust to build up in the mine, creating a hazardous work environment.  The parties also agreed that the main cause of the disaster was Massey's efforts to conceal these problems.

You can read more about the settlement in USA Today.

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