Coal Tattoo

There’s another new lawsuit that’s been filed in the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster. This was was filed on behalf of the estate of miner William Roosevelt Lynch, and it contains some interesting new allegations.

Remember that Lynch was one of seven miners who were killed while they were on their way out of the mine on a mantrip when that horrible explosion ripped through the Massey Energy operation on April 5, 2010. (See map here showing the locations of the 29 victims at the time of the explosion).

And remember what various government officials, including then-Gov. Joe Manchin, quoted here, told all of us — and told the Upper Big Branch families — after the explosion and the failed rescue effort:

When I told the families that the rescue workers told us that they can assure us no one suffered because it was so instantaneous because of the power of this. Just horrific, so horrific and we just have got to find the answers to what caused this and to make sure whatever it takes that this never happens again.

The new lawsuit, though, alleges that isn’t correct, and that Roosevelt Lynch and the other miners on the mantrip — Carl Acord, Benny Willingham, Robert Clark, Jason Atkins, Steven Harrah, and Deward Scott — actually survived the initial explosion:

Upon information and belief, William Roosevelt Lynch, and other miners riding on the man-trip vehicle did not perish instantly from the explosion originating near the longwall face.

And while not specifically naming mine explosion survivor Timothy Blake, the lawsuit explains how Blake tried heroically to save his fellow miners:

Upon information and belief, a fellow miner was attempting to deploy self-contained, self-respirators (SCSR) and to render aid to the miners on the man-trip, including William Roosevelt Lynch.

I just got off the phone with Davitt McAteer, the special investigator looking into the Upper Big Branch explosion, and he confirmed that his team’s probe has found that the miners on the mantrip survived the initial blast and that Blake tried to save them all … McAteer declined further comment, because the details of the incident have not yet been shared with the families of the miners who died.

UPDATED:  And here’s a statement from Michael Olivio, a lawyer for the Lynch family:

The Lynch family was devastated to learn that Roosevelt survived the initial explosion. Like many families, the Lynch family was told that all 29 miners died instantly. Our investigation revealed otherwise, and this has now been confirmed by Davitt McAteer. We know that there are a number of investigations ongoing and we do not want to interfere with those in any manner. With the one year anniversary of the tragedy approaching, we filed this lawsuit now to preclude any argument that some of our client’s claims may be barred by the statute of limitation. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Lynch family and the other families as the one year anniversary of this terrible disaster approaches.

I’ve posted a copy of the new lawsuit here: