At first glance that sounds admirable. On second glance, I wonder.
The company wouldn’t comment for the NPR story, other than to say it wouldn’t make public statements about confidential conversations. However, NPR interviewed members of the family of one of the dead miners, and they said they had met with Massey officials on April 21, 2010. A member of the family summed up the Massey offer: “Once we agree, the case is closed. We can’t sue.”
Massey knows that. This is the firm that has safety citations and fines at a rate much higher than average for other mining companies. If the families of the dead miners choose to file wrongful death lawsuits against the company, not only could Massey face punitive damages for reckless conduct many times higher than $3 million per miner, they could be forced to air their dirty corporate laundry – how the dangerous way they operate their mines led to miner deaths.
It’s wrong of Massey to try to pressure families into making a financial decision now, at a very painful time in their lives. It reminds me of auto insurance companies that pressure victims into signing their rights away for a pittance so the insurer can avoid paying out much more later.
Several of the families have filed wrongful death lawsuits against Massey or announced that they plan to. NPR reports that at least two of those families were not offered a $3 million settlement. Am I surprised?
On third glance, I’m certain Massey’s offer isn’t admirable. It’s business.
Denver Workers Compensation Attorney