W.Va. mine widows bring fight to Supreme Court

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia's Supreme Court must now decide whether two widows can sue federal mine inspectors for their husbands' deaths.

Delorice Bragg and Freda Hatfield believe the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration should have detected dangerous conditions at Massey Energy's Aracoma Alma No. 1 mine.

Don Bragg and Ellery Elvis Hatfield died in the Logan County mine during a 2006 fire. Massey and its subsidiary later agreed to pay $4.2 million in criminal fines and civil penalties.

A lawyer for the widows asked the Supreme Court during a Wednesday hearing to find the agency liable under state law.

A U.S. Justice Department lawyer argued that the law does not allow the claim given the facts of the case.

The widows settled with the company for undisclosed terms in 2008.

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