Marlene Griffith, Wife Of West Virginia Miner, Sues Massey Energy
Massey Energy Faced With First Lawsuit After The Incident That Killed 29 Miners
First lawsuit has been filed against Massey Energy, the company that owns the Upper Big Branch Mine where an explosion has claimed the lives of 29 miners last week. The lawsuit also includes Performance Coal, the company that operated the deadly mine as Massey's subsidiary. Marlene Griffith, the wife of William Griffith, accuses Massey Energy of her husband's wrongful death. The lawsuit filed in Raleigh County Circuit Court says that the working conditions and the safety violations in the mine extend beyond negligence and amount to aggravated conduct. AP reports federal inspectors have found more than 60 serious safety violations at Massey Energy operations since the explosion.
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William Griffith, 54, came from a family of miners. He was married to Marlene Griffith for 33 years and had two children.
The accident became America's worst mining disaster in 40 years since 38 miners were killed in an explosion in Hyden, Kentucky.
Massey Energy has yet to react to the filing of the lawsuit. No incident related statements have appeared on the company's website since Thursday when Massey Energy encouraged donations to West Virginia Council of Churches Fund for the families of killed miners.
The statement adds that Massey Energy officials continue to meet with the families to describe the benefits that it is providing to them immediately. These benefits 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." The company is dispelling the rumours that it is providing the benefits to the families of the miners to settle lawsuits. "These benefits are being provided by the Company without any obligation by the families to agree to any settlement," according to another statement.
On Thursday, Massey Energy also called U.S. President's comments about the company's safety record "regrettable." After receiving a preliminary report on the disaster, President Obama said, "safety violators like Massey have still been able to find ways to put their bottom lines before the safety of their workers, filing endless appeals instead of paying fines and fixing safety problems." Massey says the President has been "misinformed." The company says most violations are fixed the same day they are discovered, and that the backlog of violation appeals at Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is "enormous."