Former Massey Energy Official Faces up to Six Years in Prison for UBB Coal Mine Explosion

Massey Energy Valued Profits over People:  Massey official admits that if Massey had consistently followed the safety laws, coal production would have been decreased.

According to WV MetroNews, a former Massey Energy coal company official has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges stemming from safety violations at mines he operated.

The charges against David C. Hughart, the former President of Massey’s Green Valley Resource Group, are a result of the ongoing investigation into the 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 miners.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says Hughart will plead guilty to a felony count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and a misdemeanor charge of conspiracy. He faces up to six years in prison.  Hughart is the fourth Massey official so far to be criminally charged in connection with the UBB investigation.  According to federal documents, Hughart operated Massey Energy subsidiary mines in Nicholas County that routinely violated health and safety laws “because of a belief that consistently following those laws would decrease coal production.”

Additionally, Hughart was responsible for illegal advance warnings at his mines when federal Mine Safety and Health Administration inspectors arrived. According to the federal document charging Hughart, “If these routine mine health and safety violations were detected by MSHA, the resulting citations and orders could result in coal production being stopped.”

Goodwin says it was a case of putting production ahead of safety.

“He wasn’t acting alone,” Goodwin said on Wednesday’s MetroNews Talkline. “The very nature of the conspiracy is that he acted in concert with other individuals, not just at Green Valley, but at other coal operations in Massey Energy.”

Federal investigators have been probing Massey operations since the April 2010 disaster at UBB. An MSHA investigation released last year found that flagrant safety violations contributed to a massive coal dust explosion that killed the miners.

Former UBB Mine Superintendent Gary May and the former head of security at the mine, Hughie Elbert Stover, have both been convicted of charges stemming from the disaster. A former UBB worker, Thomas Harrah, has also pleaded guilty to lying about being a foreman when he acted as one at UBB.

A judge has denied a motion to delay the sentencing of Gary May, a former superintendent of the Upper Big Branch (UBB) mine, so the January 17th sentencing will go on as planned.  U.S. District Judge Irene Berger denied prosecutors’ request for a postponement, saying they’d failed to “state good cause.” Gary May pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in March.

May’s sentencing is set for Jan. 17, 2013 in Beckley. He’s cooperating with federal authorities in the ongoing criminal investigation of the 2010 explosion at the former Massey Energy mine where 29 men died in an explosion.

Additionally, Alpha Natural Resources, which bought out Massey after the disaster, has reached a $209 million dollar settlement in the case.

The UBB mine, located in Raleigh County, is permanently closed.

Coal Mine Injury and Wrongful Death Attorney

West Virginia coal miners are among the hardest working professionals in America. Despite strong MSHA regulations, coal mining continues to be one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. Every year, miners are injured or killed because the coal operators continue to circumvent or violate safety laws for the protection of the miners.

The UBB disaster illustrates the continued need for integrity in safety compliance and inspections to prevent the untimely deaths of people who are simply trying to earn a living.  Unscrupulous companies that seek maximum profits by ignoring safety concerns must be held accountable.

Attorney Jeff Robinette has litigated complex work-related injury and death cases caused by workplace hazards. Our law firm has significant experience in litigating complex coal mine cases – like the Sago Mine explosion – where serious injuries and deaths occurred.

Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, West Virginia Workplace Injury/Wrongful Death Lawyers. Call us today: 304-594-1800 for your free copy of Righting the Wrong: WV Serious Injury Guide.

Source:  WAJR/WV MetroNews:

Ronald McDonald House Facebook Fundraiser


JUST CLICK “Like.” Raise money to help sick kids and their families.  Pretty easy, right?

That’s what local lawyer Jeff Robinette and his wife, Terri, thought when they came up with an idea to fundraise for the Ronald McDonald House in Morgantown.

For each “like” Robinette Legal Group got on Facebook, the Robinettes donated $10 to Ronald McDonald House. Two days — and 1,000 “likes” later — they reached their $10,000 goal.

In a post, the Robinettes explained their decision to do the Facebook campaign rather than just donate to the charity. In addition to the donation, 41,707 people learned about the Ronald McDonald House’s goal to raise money to build a new family room; 4,791 talked about the campaign on Facebook; people had a chance to discuss how the Ronald McDonald House has affected their lives, which could have led others to donate; and the Legal Group got 1,000 likes.

“After all, it is no easy task to get people to like a lawyer,” they joked.
Ronald McDonald House Executive Director Steve De Jesus said the family room will be in WVU Children’s Hospital right across from the pediatric intensive care unit, so that family members don’t have to go far from their children to get a meal or a shower or to decompress for a few minutes. The family room will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Ronald McDonald House is only a few minutes away by foot from the hospital, but De Jesus said, for parents of critically ill children, a few minutes is an eternity.
They’ve been fundraising since April and have raised $135,000. The room is expected to cost about $275,000.
De Jesus said they were stunned by — and very appreciative of — how quickly the Robinettes were able to get “likes” on Facebook.

“In two days, we raised $10,000,” he said. “I wish we could do that every two days.”
Jeff Robinette couldn’t believe it either. “People were clicking so fast, you could watch the numbers climb by the hundreds in a couple hours,” he said. They were happy to help.

“The Ronald McDonald House has a long history in Morgantown of providing services to families and children,” Robinette said.

Robinette said they know people who have had children with health problems and could have benefited from a family room.

To donate to the Ronald McDonald House’s family room project, visit or mail a check to 841 Country Club Road, Morgantown, W.Va. 26505.

Source:  Dominion Post, October 11, 2012, by Brandy Brubaker

West Virginia Car Crash? Don’t self-diagnose injuries – get a doctor’s opinion.

If you have been involved in a serious car crash, it is important that you follow the advice of the EMS personnel and get immediate medical attention, even if you aren’t certain you have been injured.

After an accident, many auto accident victims make the mistake of trying to minimize the ordeal they have just experienced.  The attention a car accident generates can be embarrassing as well as traumatic.  Many people just want to go to the comfort of home as quickly as possible rather than continuing this major interruption to their life by spending four hours or more at an emergency room.

If you were involved in a car accident and initially refused medical evaluation and treatment, you may be surprised by symptoms showing up later.  Adrenaline can mask physical symptoms in the minutes following an accident, and some injuries such as back pain and head trauma don’t reveal themselves until hours or days later.

A thorough medical evaluation can diagnose and treat internal injuries that could save your life, and early treatment could improve your chance of a full recovery.  Having a doctor’s evaluation of the car accident’s impact on your overall health will also assist you in knowing whether you need to file an insurance claim for damages, future treatment, and lost wages.

Even if you refused medical treatment immediately after your car accident, and you discover injuries days or weeks after the crash, you could still have a personal injury case.  Please contact Morgantown car accident lawyers at the Robinette Legal Group to learn more.