US court okays US investors lawsuit against coal firm « Mining Blog

US court okays US investors lawsuit against coal firm

30. March 2012,

A FEDERAL judge in southern West Virginia has ruled that a lawsuit, filed by shareholders in coal company, Massey Energy, the infamous “mountaintop destroyer”, is now admissable.

The Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Trust had claimed on many occasions that its members were misled about Massey’s operations being some of the safest in the industry.

The investor group filed its initial suit against Massey less than a month after the April 5, 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch underground mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia.

Additionally, the investors claimed Massey’s deception led to falsely inflated stock prices between February 2008 and July 2010.

According to federal records, UBB was shut down by the US Mine Safety and Health Administration 48 times in 2009 alone but abatements of the violations allowed the operation to reopen shortly after.

From the beginning of 2009 until the day of the explosion, MSHA issued 645 violations to Massey, with $US1.2 million in penalties but the investors were not aware of them.

Massey and the UBB mine were both taken over last June by Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) and the mine remains closed.

To date, four investigations into the UBB blast have been released, including reports from MSHA, the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training, the United Mine Workers and an independent panel commissioned by former governor Joe Manchin.

All have in some way concurred that Massey was at fault, citing worn and broken equipment that created a spark which subsequently ignited accumulated methane gas and high levels of explosive coal dust.

[Source: International Longwall News, 30 March 2012]

For earlier story, see: “World’s Top Ten most at risk companies”, posted on this blog on March 26 2012.

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