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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Massey Energy Bought Workers Comp Insurance Coverage Shortly Before Mine Explosion


"Mass Murderer in a 3-piece suit" Blankenship --- would like to read THAT newspaper headline.


Any claims they make should be denied on the basis of their preexisting mine conditions.

Source: After Downing Street

Massey Energy Bought Workers Comp Insurance Coverage Shortly Before Mine Explosion
Submitted by dlindorff on Fri, 2010-04-09 12:02.

By Dave Lindorff

Massey Energy Corp., owner of the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia where at least 25 miners were killed April 5 in a methane gas explosion, apparently arranged for and purchased disability compensation insurance coverage only a month before the disaster, according to one source with inside knowledge about the company’s risk management operations.

Prior to that, the company, known for its aggressive challenges to workers’ comp claims, was self-insured for workers compensation.

But given the number of safety violations at its mines--there were 53 in March alone, 495 in 2009 and 1300 since 2005, at just the Upper Big Branch Mine and 2,074 over the past year at other mines owned by Massey across the Appalachian region--perhaps the money spent buying insurance to cover workers’ injury claims might have been better spent fixing chronic problems with methane gas build-ups in the mine. Then again, maybe the company felt that violation citations were no big deal--it has reportedly challenged two out of three instead of fixing them as a matter of course.

The company certainly has not shown particularly good judgement when it comes to its insurance decisions. Last year, despite noting in its annual report that its operations were “subject to certain events and conditions that could disrupt operations, including fires and explosions,” Massey Energy decided not to purchase business interruption insurance, according to Business Week magazine. With some analysts suggesting that the accident at the big West Virginia mine, where metalurgical coal used in the production of steel is extracted, could lead to a shutdown of that mine, and to a nearly 50% loss in overall corporate earnings this year, that decision could prove costly to Massey investors. The ratings agency Standard & Poors earlier this week placed the company, which already sports a junk-bond-level BB- credit rating, on watch for a downgrade, citing lost production, the “workers’ compensation liability and any impact potential lawsuits brought against the company may have.”


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