Widow of Upper Big Branch miner receives settlement from federal government

By Kyla Asbury | May 17, 2019


BECKLEY — A widow of a miner who died in the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion in 2010 received $550,000 settlement from the federal government 

District Judge Irene C. Berger granted the final order the settle the wrongful death claim on May 16 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

The settlement was reached on March 1 between Davis and the government. 

Davis' attorneys will receive $137,500 in attorney's fees and $3,000 of the settlement will be set aside for unreimbursed expenses. The amount of $409,500 will be distributed to Davis as the estate beneficiary of her late husband Charles Timothy Davis.

The plaintiff claims on April 5, 2010, her husband was killed in the explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine.

Davis claims the Governor's Independent Investigation Panel's report noted that the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) was aware of the mine's faulty ventilation system and didn't do anything about it. 

The lawsuit was filed on April 5, 2018, in Beckley. Davis claims MSHA ignored red flags for days, months and even years leading up to the explosion that killed 29 miners.

MSHA was negligent and the government's failure to exercise reasonable care in carrying out its inspection and enforcement activities caused the deaths of the 29 miners.

When Davis filed the lawsuit last year, she was seeking an amount in excess of $75,000.

The government failed to take reasonable steps to prevent harm to the plaintiff, according to the suit.

Davis claims the government failed to inspect and/or report numerous blatant, fundamental and grave violations of generally accepted coal mine safety standards.

Davis was represented by Bruce E. Stanley and Alice M. Schmitt of Stanley & Schmitt.

The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred B. Westfall Jr.

United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia Case number: 5:18-cv-00530 

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