Judge Throws Out Suit Blaming Safety Officials For Coal Mine Fire Deaths

by Gabe Bullard on February 9, 2011

A federal judge has determined that the widows of two men who died in a mine fire in West Virginia five years ago cannot hold federal mine inspectors responsible for the deaths.

The ruling comes in spite of an internal review that found the inspectors culpable.

From NPR:

U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver accepted that “stinging assessment,” as he called it, but still dismissed the lawsuit Bragg and Hatfield filed against MSHA officials.

Copenhaver said he couldn’t “impose a legal duty” on MSHA and its inspectors and managers because that “would directly conflict with Congress’ decision to place the primary responsibility for mine safety on mine operators.”

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