LOGAN, W.Va. – The widows of two men killed in a 2006 coal mine fire in West Virginia settled a wrongful death lawsuit against Massey Energy Co., attorneys for both sides announced Monday.
Details of the settlement, which came four days into a civil trial, weren't released.
The widows of miners Don I. Bragg, 33, and Ellery Elvis Hatfield, 47, sued the Richmond, Va.-based company, its chief executive and two subsidiaries. Bragg and Hatfield died after getting lost in thick smoke from a conveyer belt fire at the Aracoma Alma No. 1 Mine in Logan County in January 2006.
The lawsuit claimed the defendants knew or should have known that a series of problems at the mine, including a missing air control wall, could kill miners by allowing smoke to fill escape routes.
During the trial, defense lawyers conceded mistakes but told jurors their clients weren't so uncaring that they intended for Bragg and Hatfield to be seriously injured or killed.
"The widows are gratified to have this ordeal behind them and look forward to finding some peace," said their attorney, Bruce Stanley.
An attorney for Massey chief executive Don Blankenship said the company was satisfied with the settlement.
Blankenship said in a videotaped deposition shown during the trial that he kept a close watch on operations at the mine and believed conveyor belt problems had been fixed.
The fire occurred 17 days after 12 miners died following an explosion at the Sago Mine in northern West Virginia.
Both incidents led to sweeping state and federal mine safety legislation.