A judge in West Virginia has dismissed a lawsuit over the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration’s plan to privately interview witnesses to the nation’s worst coal mining disaster in 40 years.
U.S. District Judge Irene Berger concluded in an opinion released last Friday that she lacks jurisdiction to rule on the demands made in the lawsuit.
The United Mine Workers and the families of two of the 29 men killed in the April 5 disaster brought the suit, which sought a court order allowing them to observe the interviews.
The lawsuit was precipitated by MSHA’s decision to hold private interviews rather than questioning witnesses at a public hearing. The agency says it’s trying to protect the integrity of the investigation and the confidentiality of witnesses without impeding a parallel criminal investigation.
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