CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — State Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis criticized her colleagues in a dissenting opinion Friday for refusing to let institutional shareholders revive a lawsuit filed against the former Massey Energy two weeks after the Upper Big Branch mine disaster.
Earlier this month, the justices upheld a 2011 dismissal of the case brought by the California State Teachers' Retirement System, Amalgamated Bank and Manville Trust.
The investors argued that Massey had violated a 2008 settlement agreement aimed at making its operations safer. The shareholders had originally sued Virginia-based Massey in 2007, saying it routinely failed to comply with environmental and worker safety laws.
They argued they were therefore entitled to pursue damages after the blast killed 29 men in April 2010.
Massey's market value fell by $975 million within two days of the explosion.
But a circuit judge ruled the settlement agreement was nullified the day Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources bought Massey in 2011. Alpha is now the sole shareholder in Massey, known as Alpha Appalachia Holdings for legal purposes and incorporated in Delaware.
"This result is not fair, and it is not the right thing to do," Davis wrote. "Therefore, I respectfully, and vehemently, disagree."
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