FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Industrial Homicide in the Coal Mines

by RUSSELL MOKHIBER

The United Mine Workers of America held a press conference in Charleston, West Virginia to release Industrial Homicide: A Report on the Upper Big Branch Disaster.

On April 5, 2010, an explosion at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia killed 29 miners.

The UMW report calls federal and state officials to hold Massey Energy and its executives “accountable for the death of each of the 29 miners.”

“Theirs is not a guilt of omission but rather, based on the facts publicly available, the union believes that Massey Energy and its management were on notice of and recklessly tolerated mining conditions that were so egregious that the resulting disaster constituted a massive slaughter in the nature of an industrial homicide,” the report concludes.

In a footnote, the report’s authors write that “industrial homicide” is not a specific criminal act and technically speaking is not one of the classes of homicide in either the State of West Virginia where the tragedy occurred, or in the Commonwealth of Virginia where both the company and union headquarters are located.”

True.

There is no crime of industrial homicide in West Virginia.

But there is a crime of involuntary manslaughter that Massey could have been charged with.

In West Virginia “involuntary manslaughter” involves the accidental causing of death of another person, although unintended, which death is the proximate result of negligence so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life.”

And the UMW report points to a mountain of evidence supporting a claim of “reckless disregard for human life.”

The problem?

The statute of limitations for involuntary manslaughter is one year.

The state of West Virginia was urged to bring such a prosecution against the company and responsible executives.

But the Raleigh County, West Virginia Prosecutor refused.

And the UMW didn’t weigh in while the window for prosecution was open.

Why not?

The UMW had no explanation.

Here’s one – maybe the UMW wasn’t serious about homcide prosecution against Massey.

If they were, they could have weighed in when it mattered.

Now, they are pushing for federal authorities to bring Massey and its executives to justice.

But not for homicide.

“I don’t think that the opportunity for prosecution of Massey Energy is over,” said UMWA’s Phil Smith. “The federal investigation still ongoing.”

Yesterday, a former Massey mine security chief – Hughie Elbert Stover – was found guilty of lying to federal safety inspectors.

“We want make sure that this doesn’t stop with Stover,” said UMWA attorney Judy Rivlin. “We think it is a significant problem. There are a number of theories that could be pursued.”

But not the “homicide” of the UMW report’s title.

Russell Mokhiber edits the Corporate Crime Reporter.

 

Russell Mokhiber edits the Corporate Crime Reporter.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail