West Virginia Mine Involved in Deadly Blast is a Massey Subsidiary

The West Virginia coal mine that exploded this week and killed 25 workers has a less than pleasing legal back story. Upper Big Branch mine, operated by the Performance Coal Company, is a subsidiary of Massey Energy. That should ring a bell for lawyers and academics as the company owned by Don Blankenship, who was at the heart of the recent Supreme Court ruling in Caperton v. Massey — a case involving Blakenship’s alleged control of the West Virginia bench through massive campaign contributions.

Blankenship is widely viewed as a corrupting influence in West Virginia where he uses his considerable wealth to place judges and legislators in key positions. As if to fulfill his reputation as the Mr. Montgomery Burns of West Virginia, he is quoted by ABC as saying if you take photos, “you’re liable to get shot.” (here).

The mine involved in the recent explosion has had a history of safety infractions and citations. Since 1984, it has amassed a huge number of such citations, including 57 infractions just last month for violations that included repeatedly failing to develop and follow a ventilation plan.

Blankenship is often accused of skirting safety regulations and fighting such fines. One of his subsidiaries agreed to pay $4.2 million in criminal and civil fines just last year. He seems, however, all too willing to give money to West Virginia politicians and judges.

In the 2009 decision, Justice Kennedy wrote for a 5-4 majority that Blakenship’s massive contributions to Judge Brent Benjamin required the judge to recuse himself from cases involving Massey due to the “serious risk of actual bias.” The Due Process Clause required the recusal of Judge Brent Benjamin, according to the majority.

For the full story, click here.

128 thoughts on “West Virginia Mine Involved in Deadly Blast is a Massey Subsidiary”

  1. Thank you for the compliment, anon nurse.

    One lives to be of service.

  2. Thanks for the update, Buddha. Also, enjoyed your jokes about “prescience” on the Alli thread.

    Also, appreciated the link to the LA Times regarding the corruption in Bell, CA that you posted to “Corrections.”

  3. Woosty-
    Each one of those is designed to make enough power for 20,000 homes. I don’t think we’ll be seeing these at Home Depot any time soon.

  4. Byron 1, April 9, 2010 at 6:57 pm


    Clearly it doesn’t bother me


    No, clearly it does.

    Otherwise you would not be coming back day after day to try to cover up what you said.


    Byron 1, April 9, 2010 at 6:57 pm


    I know exactly what I meant to say


    Well fortunately we don’t need to know what you “meant to say”.

    We have “what you said”. And here is one of the things you said.


    “Byron 1, April 8, 2010 at 7:48 am

    “those miners knew the risks” and “did so of their own volition”.


    So in response to your question about whether or not I could read your mind, the answer is no. And I don’t need to.

    I have your own words to work with.

    You on the other hand do not like to address your words. You instead like to attack the individual addressing them. Like most conservatives, you cannot defend your own statements so you attack the person instead.

    So continue to dig at my personal character all you want, it will bounce right off. Personal insults from a stranger on the web means little and does little to improve your case.

    You go on and keep focusing on me, and I’ll go on and keep focusing on your actual words. Because intent means little after the fact.

  5. On another thread I posted:
    “(so things like 25 (or 29) coal miners dying in an explosion don’t happen)”

    And Bdaman responded:

    “Dr. Slarti I’ll respond once here seeing how we have a coal miner thread already going but is it fair to blame Bush for Sago and not Obama for the recent one. 600 violations in the last 18 months so these happened under Obama’s watch. I’ll take my answer on the miners thread. thank you”

    In a word: yes. The gutting of federal regulatory agencies by the Bush regime (apparently this is the correct term according to Rush Limbaugh) wasn’t magically erased upon President Obama’s inauguration – by the accounts I’ve heard the president has appointed a tough regulator to the head of the appropriate agency – how long has he been on the job? How long did it take for him to be confirmed? The US government has an enormous amount of inertia although President Obama began changing direction on day one it is not his fault that things did not change instantly. President Bush (and shadow President Dick ‘the war criminal’ Cheney) sowed the wind and we will be reaping the whirlwind for years to come. The experts that I’ve heard seem to think that this was a preventable disaster and 2 things could have prevented it: unions and (enforced) regulations.

  6. Byron 1, April 9, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    And I do believe you and people like you would deny people that believe in free markets and individual rights any rights if you and your type ever came to power. I see it in your words, you are a bully purely and simply. Your type is all about control and manipulation and the quest for power over others.


    Really? And how exactly did you conclude all that? That I would like to deny free markets? Funny. I work in the free market son.

    Perhaps the best response here is to reprint your own words that preceded these.

    “Am I now to understand you are a clairvoyant and can read my mind?”

  7. Byron 1, April 9, 2010 at 6:57 pm


    Do “tea baggers” bother you? Would you like to strangle them or eviscerate them? Personally I am not a “tea bagger”. Although I will admit I do like free markets and I do like individual rights.


    Well that’s like asking someone if criminals “bother them”. Sure, any band of looney’s with guns talking murder and treason would bother any decent American.

    As for your constant attempts to read my mind, try doing what I do and stick with my words. Pretending to attribute violent emotions to someone who has expressed none is a sign of projection.

    Particularly when you’re the one who lost his temper and started shouting profane rants at me in our first discussion.

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