Massey Officials Meeting with West Virginia Miners’ Families on Benefits

April 16, 2010

Massey Energy Co. said its officials are meeting with families of the 29 miners killed the April 5 blast at its Upper Big Branch mine to describe the benefits the firm will provide them and denied it was trying to stave off lawsuits.

The company said there was an inaccurate online report that said the benefits were being offered to avoid lawsuits. “This is absolutely untrue. These benefits are being provided by the company without any obligation by the families to agree to any settlement,” Massey said in a statement.

The company said the benefits being discussed with families “are designed to ensure that no family will have to worry about missing a paycheck, paying a medical bill or sending a child to college.”

Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship told the Charleston Daily Mail in an interview that benefits will include health insurance, life insurance that is five times a miner’s annual pay, and pay for the difference between what workers’ compensation allows and a miner’s real pay.

The company said personal injury lawyers have published advertisements seeking cases and that some personal injury lawyers have made efforts to contact some of the families.

Massey Energy said it believes that there will be an “appropriate time” in the future to discuss settlement options with the families.

“If any proposals are made to the families, those families will be given a full opportunity to review those proposals with a lawyer of their choosing. To the extent settlements are reached, it is the company’s desire that the families — and not personal injury attorneys — receive the money. Unfortunately, personal injury attorneys frequently take 30-40 percent of any settlement received by a family. The company hopes such a result can be avoided in this circumstance,” the firm’s statement said.

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