Aracoma widows appeal federal judge's dismissal

By The West Virginia Record | Apr 7, 2011

CHARLESTON -- The widows of Aracoma Alma No. 1 miners Don Bragg and Elvis Hatfield are appealing a federal judge's ruling dismissing their case against the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.

According to The Associated Press, Delorice Bragg and Freda Hatfield asked Wednesday for the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, in Richmond, Va., to take up their case.

The widows' lawsuit was filed last April. The two men died in a conveyer belt fire at the Massey Energy Co. mine in Logan County on Jan. 19, 2006.

U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver Jr. dismissed the widows' case last July, saying MSHA was not liable for their husbands' deaths.

According to the AP, the suit accused MSHA of negligence in regulating the mine. The widows argued that the agency and its inspectors should be held liable under state law.

"MSHA did not do its duty at Aracoma," the widows' attorney, Bruce Stanley, told MetroNews on Wednesday.

"The widows deserve to learn whether that was because it was not able or not willing," he said.

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