Massey, Blankenship file defamation suit

INDUSTRY giant Massey Energy and its president, Don Blankenship, are citing defamation in a recently filed $US300 million lawsuit against a large labor union, a political advocacy group and a local newspaper. The grievances stem from a series of negative television spots aired during a state political race in 2004.

Donna Schmidt

In the contest, Democrat incumbent Warren McGraw and Republican candidate Brent Benjamin went head-to-head for a seat on the state Supreme Court that Benjamin ultimately won.

During the campaign, Blankenship contributed more than $US2.5 million to a series of negative advertising spots attacking then Justice McGraw. Last December, McGraw sued Blankenship, one of the ads’ creators and the media outlet that aired them; his libel suit is still pending.

In response, West Virginia Consumers for Justice produced pro-McGraw ads that attacked Blankenship for his role in the campaign.

Massey also alleges that United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) and its president Cecil Roberts circulated false information that it shut down mines purchased from bankrupt Horizon Natural Resources last year and laid off 250 workers. Massey contends that the mines were already closed when it purchased them.

According to the lawsuit, statements made by the UMWA and the West Virginia Consumers for Justice “were undisputedly false and were made with actual malice”. Additionally, the suit alleges that a local newspaper, the Charleston Gazette, “has a long history of close relationships with the UMWA and unwarranted attacks on Massey Energy and Blankenship”

According to court papers, both Blankenship and Richmond, Virginia-based Massey Energy are suing the UMWA and the West Virginia Consumers for Justice and their presidents; Blankenship is the sole complainant in the case filed against the Charleston Gazette.

Most read Archive


Most read Archive