West Virginia Judge Allows Aracoma Fire Suit to Continue

September 25, 2008

A West Virginia judge cleared the way for a wrongful death lawsuit to proceed against coal giant Massey Energy and Chief Executive Don Blankenship.

The widows of miners Ellery Hatfield and Don Bragg want damages from Richmond, Va.-based Massey, two subsidiaries and Blankenship for the men’s deaths in a January 2006 fire at a mine in Logan County. The fire at Massey’s Aracoma Coal Co. mine helped to convince Congress to pass sweeping safety legislation later that year.

Logan County Circuit Judge Robert Perry Blankenship ruled Sept. 22 that a jury should decide whether Massey and the other defendants are liable for damages.

A Massey Energy Co. spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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