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Bluebear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 12:21 AM
Original message
4 missing W.Va. miners dead; final toll at 29
Source: AP

MONTCOAL, W.Va. Rescue workers located four bodies deep in a West Virginia coal mine, dashing any faint hopes of finding more survivors of a deadly explosion that has claimed 29 lives, the worst U.S. mining disaster in a generation.

Officials announced the grim discovery at the Upper Big Branch Mine around 1 a.m. Saturday, after first notifying family members.

"We did not receive the miracle that we prayed for," Gov. Joe Manchin said. "So this journey has ended and now the healing will start."

Until late Friday, officials had held out a slim chance that four missing miners may have made it to an underground refuge chamber which held enough oxygen and water to survive for four days.

"None of the chambers had been deployed and none of our miners suffered," Manchin said.

Read more: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100410/ap_on_bi_ge/us_mine_explosion
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CaliforniaPeggy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 12:25 AM
Response to Original message
1. I can only hope they didn't suffer.
That is for the families and all the survivors...

The living who must now go on without their loved ones, those are the people who will suffer...

Mark my words: There will be no healing until the mine owner is brought to justice. NONE.

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Archae Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 12:27 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. He won't be.
Edited on Sat Apr-10-10 12:31 AM by Archae
He's BOUGHT his own "justice," and he'll continue to kill while making scads of money.
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bluestateguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 12:36 AM
Response to Original message
3. Any politician who took Massey's money is hereby complicit
nt
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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 04:20 AM
Response to Reply #3
19. Then that is a question that must be asked at every meeting:
"Did you take Massey blood money?" Make that money as toxic as coal dust.

Run campaign ads: Massey blood money pays for my opponent's campaign.
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Altoid_Cyclist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 05:29 AM
Response to Reply #19
22. Here's a list of some of the slimeballs over the years.
Some of the records are pretty old but they do reveal a pattern. We need to go after the ones that are still in office.

This bastard should be looking at over 30 counts of manslaughter at the very least. I'd prefer murder charges but that will never be allowed to happen.

From SourceWatch:

Campaign Contributions
WV Republican State Exec Committee Campaign Contribution ⋅ $23000 ⋅ 3 filings ('02→'04)
A.T. Massey Coal Company Inc. PAC Campaign Contribution ⋅ $12700 ⋅ 6 filings ('89→'08)
West Virginians for Life Inc Political Action Committee Campaign Contribution ⋅ $5000 ⋅ 1 filing ('04)
James S. Gilmore III Campaign Contribution ⋅ $4600 ⋅ 2 filings ('08)
James Mountain Inhofe Campaign Contribution ⋅ $3300 ⋅ 4 filings ('07→'08)
Mitch McConnell Campaign Contribution ⋅ $2000 ⋅ 2 filings ('93→'99)
George Allen Campaign Contribution ⋅ $2000 ⋅ 2 filings ('99→'00)
National Republican Senatorial Committee Campaign Contribution ⋅ $1000 ⋅ 1 filing ('92)
Bill Frist Campaign Contribution ⋅ $1000 ⋅ 1 filing ('98)
Tom Delay Campaign Contribution ⋅ $1000 ⋅ 1 filing ('98)
James J. MacCallum Campaign Contribution ⋅ $1000 ⋅ 1 filing ('98)
Bob Dole Campaign Contribution ⋅ $1000 ⋅ 1 filing ('95)
National Republican Congressional Committee Campaign Contribution ⋅ $500 ⋅ 1 filing ('98)
John Scott Keadle Campaign Contribution ⋅ $500 ⋅ 1 filing ('98)
James Paul David Bunning Campaign Contribution ⋅ $500 ⋅ 1 filing ('98)
Republican Party of Kentucky Campaign Contribution ⋅ $500 ⋅ 1 filing ('02)
Wendell Hampton Ford Campaign Contribution ⋅ $500 ⋅ 1 filing ('92)
Phil Gramm Campaign Contribution ⋅ $500 ⋅ 1 filing ('90)


Rest of the article detailing what a POS this guy was, is and always will be until someone stops his buying of justice.

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Don_Blankenship#Campaign_Contributions

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tabasco Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 07:50 AM
Response to Reply #22
24. That's a laundry list of dirtbags right there. n/t
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Turbineguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 07:55 AM
Response to Reply #22
25. Also
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CanonRay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 08:00 AM
Response to Reply #22
26. West Virginian's for Life?
I guess there were no fetuses in that mine.
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Honeycombe8 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 10:16 AM
Response to Reply #3
31. But....let's not forget: the miners vote
I would bet that most of the miners traditionally vote Republican and are avid anti-environmentalists, since coal mining is their life blood, and they are bluegrass country folk.

Safety regs should be strictly enforced, and violators punished to the extent that it's not worth a company's while to fail to comply with safety regs.

But let's not forget that coal mining is a partnership between the mining companies and the miners, who vehemently oppose any cutting back of coal mining, environmental protections against coal mining, and anything that would cause a mining company to leave their area (including beefed up safety regs).

Unions used to protect the miners, I heard a guy on TV say, but in recent years, the unions have disintegrated a lot. Most miners don't join the unions.

This was a horrible tragedy that has lead to a lot of grief and sadness. But I come from a factory town where lots of people work in the "plants." They know the risks. It's dangerous work. They are free to work for someone else, or even leave the town. They choose to stay for the easy money and paid insurance for life. And they are avid, even rabid, card-carrying Republicans who are anti-environmental, vehemently opposed to air standards and water protections because it affects their company's profits, and thereby affects their paychecks. Like a lot of people, they don't think the plant explosion (and there always is one, sooner or later) will affect them, or will be directly related to the dirty air and polluted water. "That's just them tree huggers talkin' out their asses."

Maybe, just maybe, the mining unions will start to grow again. The unions have their faults, but they do work to protect the miners from the numerous safety violations.
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xxqqqzme Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 10:21 PM
Response to Reply #31
38. When I lived in West Virginia,
the miners I knew were fiercely pro-union and voted Democratic. They knew the rethuglicans would never have their back.

I moved from there 18 years ago, so times may have changed.
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Honeycombe8 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-11-10 09:40 AM
Response to Reply #38
41. Yes, things have changed. Massey broke the union.
I saw a documentary, "Coal Mining," on the Planet station (PLGN I think it is). Very interesting and informative.

Coal mining employs just a few thousand working people in WV, but you'd never know it by the enormous power that the most powerful coal mining co. in the country, Masseyk, holds in WV.

Massey, according to the documentary, broke the union years ago. They brought in non-union workers from other towns. So if you wanted to work in the mine, you couldn't be union.

It's interesting that the folks who live near the mines are environmentalists, now...because they're air and water has been polluted. Cancer rates are high in mine country. Massey fights them tooth and nail all the way. The locals interviewed in the documentary don't work in the mines.

The few miners interviewed for the documentary were definitely pro-coal mining, pro-mountaintop stripping, pro-everything coal mining imaginable (of course).

Even Sen. Robert Byrd and Rockefeller (WV governor once?) are vehemently opposed to doing anything adversely affecting Massey. In response to a conservative judge's ruling that some mining must stop while community impact is examined (the water was being polluted, air was thick with coal dust, etc.), the documentary showed Robert Byrd speaking outside the courthouse steps, in a loud voice, raising his arm in the air, "This ruling will not stand! West Virginia IS coal mining!"

They showed Rockefeller speaking on TV years ago stating that there is no advantage to WV in strip mining whatsoever, that we all know that, and that it must stop. He lost that election. So he changed his position to the opposite, and won the next election.

So WV is firmly behind the coal mining industry. Except those poor folks who happen to live near one of those mines and suffer the consequences.

It's sad, really.
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inna Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-12-10 04:44 PM
Response to Reply #41
44. Wow. Very interesting perspective. (And yes, it is sad.) Thank you. nt
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kysrsoze Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 01:03 AM
Response to Original message
4. It seemed that was the case. Sorry to hear that it was. Prayers/consolation to their families
Edited on Sat Apr-10-10 01:06 AM by kysrsoze
Massey's CEO is utter scum. Money over lives. I expected to see progress in how people treat each other since my childhood. How sad that in 2010, we've devolved as a society back to robber baron times... and so many find it acceptable.
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David__77 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 01:07 AM
Response to Original message
5. Total lesson in capitalism.
A social system has blood on its hands. Read the memos of the head honcho and you'll see the cold-blooded class logic.
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elleng Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 04:27 AM
Response to Reply #5
20. On the 19th of April 1898,
a fire broke out in pit number 5 of the Whitwick Quarry, near Coalville in North West Leicestershire. At that time, areas left empty when coal had been extracted were packed with waste material. However, there were many air pockets in this material, and it was in one of these areas (known as gobs) that the fire started, apparently through spontaneous combustion of the flammable gasses in the air pockets.

There were 42 men in the pit, 39 of whom were beyond the fire, which was discovered by Deputy Joseph Limb. 5 managed to escape on another access tunnel, but one returned to try to rescue his comrades trapped behind the fire. He died trying to reach them.

The youngest to die in the disaster was John Albert Gee, aged only 13. His body was only recovered some months later, and the official burial was on the 11th January 1899. He was employed as a driver of one of the pit ponies.

http://semper-eadem.tripod.com/Articles/25.htm

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socialist_n_TN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 11:41 AM
Response to Reply #5
34. Yep. Lives and money are..............
unequal. Class warfare at it's finest. If it's cheaper and more profitable to fight fines and kill people to gain profit, that's what they'll do. And if it's more profitable to even PAY the fines and keep doing what they're doing that what they'll do. Crass and class warfare.
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democrank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 01:18 AM
Response to Original message
6. Rest in peace
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jimlup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 01:59 AM
Response to Original message
7. Sad News... missing miners are found dead
Edited on Fri Apr-09-10 11:56 PM by jimlup
Source: CNN

4 Missing Miners are not alive BREAKING NOW 12:42AM

Read more: http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2010/04/10/4-missing-west-virginia-miners-found-dead/?hpt=T1



RIP
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Oceansaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 01:59 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. damn...RIP...n/t
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GreenPartyVoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 01:59 AM
Response to Reply #7
9. Oh no!
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shraby Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 01:59 AM
Response to Reply #7
10. When is the DOJ going to say what that owner did was
a criminal act and charge him with murder?
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tomm2thumbs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 01:59 AM
Response to Reply #7
11. terrible losses - family, friends, all those affected who knew them /nt

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Lugnut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 01:59 AM
Response to Reply #7
12. Damn.
I had my doubts that anyone could have survived the explosion. May they all rest in peace. :(
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GoddessOfGuinness Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 02:00 AM
Response to Reply #7
13. My heart goes out to their families.
What an awful thing...
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sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 02:00 AM
Response to Reply #7
14. Sad to hear this
It did seem like a bit of a long shot. Thanks for posting.
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wisteria Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 02:04 AM
Response to Original message
15. If these workers had had union representation, these unsafe working conditions would never have been
Edited on Sat Apr-10-10 02:04 AM by wisteria
allowed to happen. This is a horrific and tragic story of what happens when corporations are left virtually unchecked to covet profits at the expense of those who work for them. Twenty nine human beings lost their lives because of a larger profit margin.
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wisteria Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 02:08 AM
Response to Original message
16. This should not have happened on so many levels. God rest all of their souls
and may their families find comfort and peace.
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Bluebear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 03:03 AM
Response to Reply #16
18. Indeed to all you said, wisteria
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MrMickeysMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 02:25 AM
Response to Original message
17. It's time to run that debate video now...
You know, the one that shows RFK Jr at a public debate with this turd, Blankenship defending what we do in the name of energy.

We tolerate the loss of lives over corporate corruption and deceit.

Shame.
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underpants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 05:28 AM
Response to Reply #17
21. CNN- Coal company will pay for the funerals
it's the least they could do.... literally the LEAST they could do

Blankenship is scum
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Lasher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 05:44 AM
Response to Reply #21
23. I wonder what suvivors benefits there are.
Probably none at all.
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Tansy_Gold Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 08:56 AM
Response to Reply #23
27. Blankenship had purchased worker's comp insurance
a month ago. There should be some compensation from that, if the ins. co. pays on it.

Prior to that, according to reports I read yesterday, Massey Energy was "self-funded" for worker's comp. That means, more than likely, they had an independent company do the administering of claims but the claims were paid directly by Massey.

With a regular insurance policy, Massey only paid the premium, and then the insurer had to pay out the claims. Since Massey only paid out one month in premiums, the insurance company is on the hook for 29 death benefits.

Back in about 1968 I worked for a law firm in Chicago that had handled the case of the Our Lady of Angels school fire in 1958, because the insurer (whose name I remember but will not mention here) initially refused to pay on the grounds that the school did not comply with policy requirements regarding safety, fire prevention, whatever. The firm I worked for was representing the insurer. I do not know how that case was ultimately resolved or whether the insurer ever paid on the claims for the 92 children who were killed in the fire or the 100+ who were injured. All I know is that it is possible for an insurer to deny a claim like this; how successful they may be in sustaining that denial is a question I can't yet answer.

I currently do a lot of work for insurance companies and most of my work involves disputed claims. I can't tell you how many times I've heard claimants scream at an investigator, "BUT I PAID THE PREMIUMS! THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO DO IS PAY MY CLAIMS!" as if they are entitled to payment regardless of their own involvement in the loss.

1. A woman is pretty sure her brother-in-law stole valuable jewelry from her house and wants the insurance company to compensate her, but she refuses to file a police report and name the brother-in-law as a suspect because she doesn't want to hurt her sister's feelings. The insurance company has a right to mitigate their own losses, and if she won't do everything possible to recover the stolen items, the insurer does not have to pay.

2. A guy's expensive new car is stolen from a theater parking lot while he's at the movies with his wife and kids. The car is found several blocks away, burned and stripped. He insists he had the only key and the thieves must have hot-wired it. But a key is found in the ignition and he eventually confesses yeah, he only carried the fob with him to unlock the door and left the ignition key in the console. He contributed to the loss, and the insurance company doesn't have to pay.

Blankenship's insurance may not get him off the hook, and I hope it doesn't. The lawsuits against Massey could and should go on for years, eventually bankrupting the company and especially Blankenship personally.

AS I said in another post a couple of days ago, Ed Masry of Erin Brockovitch fame is gone, but Jan Schlichtmann is still around. The coal miners of West Virginia and of everywhere, the residents of the communities affected by mountaintop removal mining, and everyone who is even remotely connected (by the power grid) to this unholy company need to be defended by someone with some principles and the evil removed from our midst.

Don Blankenship is evil personified. I do not, not even under these circumstances, support the death penalty. But I do believe that if someone took out Don Blankenship, there isn't a jury of their peers (the killer's peers, not Blankenship's peers) that would convict even with the most uncontestable evidence of guilt.




Tansy Gold
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MrMickeysMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 10:14 AM
Response to Reply #27
30. Understood.... However, it makes me wonder further...
... especially since these huge firms have fine print in their liability insurance, if this wouldn't all be settled for pennies on the dollars they make.

What is every single life worth? Massey will no doubt get a check for every life lost.

Bastards can rot in a pit full of dinosaur fossils, as far as I'm concerned.
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Lasher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 10:54 AM
Response to Reply #27
32. Thank you for the insight, Tansy.
Edited on Sat Apr-10-10 10:57 AM by Lasher
And you are right, Blankenship is an evil man. But at least this time we don't have Arch Moore as Governor to sell us out.

Edit: Do you really think this could end up bankrupting Blankenship personally? I hope so. And in any court action it must be remembered that the WV Supreme Court has in the past been quite empathetic with Massey, even after we employed the electoral process to remove one of his vacationing pals.
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Tansy_Gold Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 11:21 AM
Response to Reply #32
33. I am not a lawyer and I don't pretend to be one. However,
it seems to me that there are multiple avenues for going after Massey Energy as a corporation and Don Blankenship as an individual.

There is always the route of a change of venue, in the event the plaintiff's counsel believes a fair trial isn't possible in a given place.

There are also the 29 deaths, which can be treated as a single incident and lumped in one trial, or used individually. Thus if one trial ends in acquittal or dismissal or whatever, the others can be used for retrials. At least that's the way I understand it. I could be wrong.

I'm quite sure Blankenship has lots of money stashed off shore and assets are listed in others' names -- a spouse, children, other corporations, etc. -- to avoid liability. But it seems to me, and again I am not a lawyer and am only speculating on the basis of gut instinct, that there would be avenues for going after those assets. RICO comes to mind, and I don't mean Edward G. Robinson.


Tansy Gold
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Petrushka Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 01:03 PM
Response to Reply #27
35. Wonder what would happen if the insurance company decides that Blankenship didn't reveal the . . .
. . . unsafe condition of that mine? Would they try to obtain reimbursement from Blankenship
for any comp paid under that policy because of the unsafe, pre-existing condition of his mine?

.

My thoughts and prayers are with those families down there . . . and everywhere else that men's
lives are being sacrificed to Mammon by the Blankenship's of this world.


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Tansy_Gold Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 02:11 PM
Response to Reply #35
36. The insurance company can deny the claim.
Worker's compensation claims are denied and/or contested frequently.

1. Worker falls on the job, claims severe back injuries. Claims compensation for medical treatment and time lost from work. Insurance company pays. After being off work for three weeks, worker is seen by fellow employees at local bar stretched across the pool table and dancing to rock band, and brags of having scammed the system. Report reaches insurer, who sends out an investigator. Claim is denied and worker has to repay all compensation. Worker loses job, is ineligible for unemployment compensation, and is also charged with fraud.

2. Worker tampers with safety devices on equipment in order to speed up production and increase piece-rate. Worker is injured by equipment because of disconnected safety mechanism. Worker's claim is ACCEPTED but at a reduced rate because employer had responsibility to ensure safety was tamper-proof.

3. Worker falls due to spilled oil on factory floor and is injured. Employer contests claim because worker was attempting to walk through an area not intended to be walked through (area was for "staging" of materials and restricted to forklifts and other equipment). Employer further contests claim on the basis that employee is overweight and therefore unable to see oil spill. Claim is paid in full because there was no signage designating the area as restricted and the employee was hired regardless was weight.

These are just three examples, all from my own experience in HR and insurance claims, but I think you can see how it's really a matter of judging each case on the individual merits and circumstances and policy details. If Massey's WC insurer decides not to pay, they may have very good grounds for not paying. And if West Va has laws regarding WC coverage, Massey may be left liable as a self-insurer. I don't know the details of the case, the WC law in WVa, or the policy. But I do think this will all come into play as the publicity surrounding this catastrophe shines a very bright light on the operations of Performance Coal and Massey Energy and Don Blankenship.


Tansy Gold
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socialist_n_TN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-11-10 08:57 AM
Response to Reply #27
40. I wonder if Massey, Inc. had "dead peasant"....................
life insurance policies. This seems to be the type of company that would have them. And yes, I watched "Capitalism, A Love Story" last night.
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MrMickeysMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 09:15 AM
Response to Reply #21
29. Will that be covered by the life insurance that Massey has on each employee?
I think they'll probably get change back from that check...

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Botany Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 09:01 AM
Response to Original message
28. Maybe Blakenship can bring in Ted Nugent, Hannity, and Hank Williams Jr.
For a funeral party. The son of a bitch had $1,000,000 for a right wing jerk off party but
didn't spend enough to make sure his mine was ventilated.

I hope the 2 West Virginia Supreme court judges that Blankenship bought off never have
a sound night's sleep again.



Here is one of them w/ Don on the French Riviera.

**********

I wish the families well
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Tansy_Gold Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-11-10 09:40 AM
Response to Reply #28
42. Understand that the kind of person who would perpetrate this kind of
crime against humanity does not have a conscience as you and I would recognize it. They do not see the miners as "real" human beings.


Here's a scenario: You buy a package of inexpensive plastic ballpoint pens at Walgreen's. You use one of them for writing checks, making out grocery lists, whatever. Somewhere along the line it gets cracked and doesn't work any more. So you toss it in the nearest wastebasket and reach for another one. You have no feelings of remorse for throwing it away; there are 7 more in the package, all brand new and waiting to work for you.

Don Blankenship likens his employees to cheap plastic ballpoint pens. He does not worry about them, does not care about them, does not think of them as human beings.

Neither do the judges, legislators, regulators who allow themselves to be paid off. THEY DO NOT CARE. Do not expect them to lose any sleep; the kind of person who would lose sleep over it would not have done it in the first place.



Tansy Gold
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senseandsensibility Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 10:14 PM
Response to Original message
37. RIP
We will mourn, and then we will investigate.
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Blue_Tires Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 11:25 PM
Response to Original message
39. So does someone actually GO after Massey now?
Or do we drop this down the memory hole until another incident next year?
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slackmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-11-10 10:02 AM
Response to Original message
43. For all those blaming "capitalism": This happened on our watch
:argh:
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