Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Mining company accused of taking shortcuts on safety

In a neighboring state of Pennsylvania there were 29 coal miners killed during the Massey Energy Company coal mining accident. One of the families that has brought a wrongful death lawsuit concerning the matter claims that intentional actions of the company may ultimately have resulted in the accident occurring.

This 2010 incident turned out to be the worst United States coal mining disaster in approximately 40 years. A small methane ignition may have resulted in an explosion at the site, and it is alleged that such an ignition would not have occurred if the company had implemented a number of safety practices.

Like occurs in so many wrongful death lawsuits against large companies, the complaint states that the company placed profits ahead of worker safety. Massey was later purchased for $7.1 billion and certainly is large enough and rich enough to study and put into place a safety protocol that could probably have prevented such an accident from ever occurring.

The company that purchased Massey, though not named in the wrongful death actions, did put into place $209 million that was used to settle any corporate liability on their part. The 29 miners killed worked hard at their jobs and had families that were depending upon them.

It would be next to impossible to put too high a price on the value such an individual would have in relation to other family members. Wrongful death lawsuits are brought by attorneys to help such families survive, though whatever compensation received will never completely make up for the loss. Such lawsuits are also a reminder to such companies that their actions do have real consequences to more than just the individuals killed in such accidents.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Family of Miner Sues Former Massey Officials," by Kris Maher, April 5, 2012

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