The families of two miners killed in the April 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia and another man who survived the blast have sued owner Massey Energy Co. (MEE), the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette reported Tuesday.
The three lawsuits were filed Monday in a county court by the families of Joe Marcum and Adam Morgan and by Stanley Stewart, who escaped from the explosion that killed 29 miners. The lawsuits name Massey and subsidiaries Massey Coal Services and Performance Coal Co.
At least two other miners' families have sued. Massey said last week it had reached settlements with seven families. Settlement details haven't been made public, but Massey has said it offered families $3 million to settle any claims against the company, the Gazette reported.
The Charleston lawyer who filed the three suits, Tim Bailey, alleged that Massey operated Upper Big Branch in a "willful, wonton and recklessly unsafe manner," citing a "staggering number of safety violations" cited by government inspectors.
Massey has said it believes data on crushed limestone -- capable of controlling buildup of explosive coal dust -- compiled by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration at Upper Big Branch is inaccurate. The company also has argued that water spray problems identified by the agency had little if anything to do with the deadly explosion.
The U.S. Justice Department has been conducting a criminal investigation while federal and state safety officials investigate the cause of the accident.
Massey agreed in January to sell itself to Alpha Natural Resources Inc. (ANR) in a deal valued at $7.1 billion.
Full story at http://www.wvgazette.com/News/montcoal/201103070521
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