Judge blasts Massey Energy for ‘grandstanding’ in Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster investigation

July 30, 2010 by Ken Ward Jr.

Massey Energy has been making a lot of noise in its complaints about the way the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration is investigating the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster. (See previous posts here and here).

But in a ruling quietly issued last week, an administrative law judge with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration blasts Massey subsidiary Performance Coal Co.”s handling of the matter. In denying Massey’s request for an expedited hearing on its complaints about MSHA’s investigation procedures, Judge Margaret A. Miller wrote:

I am concerned about the motives of  Performance in this case. Instead of focusing on the issue at hand and submitting legal authorities that entitle it to an expedited hearing, it uses this venue to attack the investigative techniques of MSHA, which are really not at issue here.

Performance’s documents exaggerate and misrepresent the facts, and make little attempt to address the legal issues that are being raised.

Instead, Performance treats this Court as a forum for grandstanding and, in doing so, attempts to interfere with the ongoing investigation.

I’ve posted a copy of Judge Miller’s decision here.

4 Responses to “Judge blasts Massey Energy for ‘grandstanding’ in Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster investigation”

  1. rcj112 says:

    Great article. Great decision. GREAT photo!

  2. WVMiner says:

    Thank goodness our forefathers set up a judicial system that can’t easily be bought! I say easliy due to the fact Presidents appoint federal judges so i.e. put your President in office get your judges…

  3. rhmooney3 says:

    Administrative law hearings are meant to be dumping grounds for whatever a coal compnay, in this instances, wants to put on the record. Subsequently judical reviews depend in large part on what’s in that administrative revew record.

    For sure, it’s not great reading for hearing officer (law judge) but that’s part of the job.

    Massey Energy has a lot at stake and, understandably, they are putting a lot into it.

    (Thinking that Don Blankenship is doing everything at Massey Energy is not much thinking.)

    P.S. This all has many years to play out.

  4. Jim says:

    This is the proper legal strategy for Massey in this situation. They’re looking at the findings of the investigation and any future appeal. The judge should not have even commented on the facts that Massey presented but rather ruled them irrelevant – as done initially the judge decided to dispute them. This will just raise further issues that Massey can appeal.

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