United Mine Workers Association president Cecil Roberts, left, hugs a family member of a miner during a memorial for the victims of the Upper Branch Mine explosion at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center in Beckley, W.Va., Sunday, April 25, 2010. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
UPDATED: I have posted a copy of the court filing here.
Earlier this morning, lawyer for the United Mine Workers of America union and families of the victims of the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster filed suit in U.S. District Court here in Charleston to challenge the decision by MSHA chief Joe Main to hold witness interviews in the disaster investigation behind closed doors.
“We sincerely wish we did not have to take this action,” said union President Cecil Roberts. “But we have been left with no choice. We believe it is imperative for the families of the victims of this tragedy to be able to hear the evidence that will be gathered in these interviews for themselves.
“We also believe that the workers – who will have to go back to work in that mine – must be allowed to have their designated representative in the interviews, asking questions and hearing testimony first-hand,” Roberts said. “The only way that can be accomplished is by MSHA holding an open and transparent investigation.”
As part of their legal action, the UMWA and the miners’ families are seeking a temporary restraining order to stop the interview process from proceeding without representatives of the families and miners being present.
Updated: Joining the UMWA in filing the court action were the families of William I. Griffith and Ronald Maynor, two of the miners killed at Upper Big Branch, as well as the Moreland and Moreland law firm, which represents the two estates and has also been appointed miners’ representative for other Upper Big Branch miners.