Victim's daughter: Massey offering $3M settlements

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Massey Energy Co. is offering $3
million to each of the families of 29 men killed in an explosion at
its Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia, the daughter of
one of the victims said Thursday.
The offer came a week earlier when Massey officials visited the
family, said Michelle McKinney, daughter of Benny Ray Willingham.
McKinney said other families have received the same offer.
Massey did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.
The widow of William Griffith has already filed a wrongful death
lawsuit, while the mother of Adam Morgan has won a court order
preserving relevant records and potential evidence from the
disaster. The April 5 explosion - the nation's worst coal mining
disaster in 40 years - also has prompted legal action by several
current and former shareholders.
McKinney isn't interested in settling.
"Nope," she said. "My dad didn't have a price tag on him. Don
Blankenship don't have enough money to pay me."
Massey CEO Blankenship is among the highest paid executives in
the coal industry. McKinney said she would like to take every penny
he has.
"Maybe it'll save somebody else's life," she said.
On Monday, Richmond, Va.-based Massey laid out a financial
package that it said would free the families from ever worrying
about money.
Among other things, Massey said families would receive five
times the miner's annual pay as life insurance benefits and an
additional payment to surviving spouses. The offer also would
include health coverage both for surviving spouses and dependent
children, and four years' worth of college or vocational education
at any accredited school in West Virginia for those children.
Director Robert Foglesong said accepting those benefits would
not prevent a family from pursuing any legal claims.
Federal and state investigators suspect the explosion was caused
by a combination of methane gas and combustible coal dust. Toxic
gases have kept them from entering the mine. Officials say tests
showing the presence of acetylene and ethylene, gases not normally
found in an underground work environment, suggest a fire may be
burning somewhere.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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