On April 5, 2010, one of the most tragic mine disasters in our country's last fifty-year history occurred at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Boone County, West Virginia. Twenty-nine miners were killed and many more were injured. Multiple civil lawsuits were filed on behalf of the decedents, their families, and the other individuals who claimed physical and/or emotional injuries. A federal investigation occurred resulting in criminal indictments and a settlement with the United States Attorney's Office in the Southern District of West Virginia.
Before discovery was initiated, the parties proposed that all of the claims be submitted to a mediation panel of three attorneys. The parties agreed and Judge William S. Thompson ordered the appointment of Robert P. Fitzsimmons of the Fitzsimmons Law Firm PLLC; Mike Rozen, an attorney/mediator with Feinberg Rozen, LLP; and Don O'Dell, a Huntington attorney as special mediators.
Following nine months of mediation and numerous mediation sessions and hearings, the mediation panel successfully settled all 29 wrongful death claims and all personal injury and/or standby claims (with the exception of two that are subject to pending motions to dismiss).
The mediation provided closure to the families and individuals of this tragedy, the successor corporation, and as well the residents of Boone County and the State of West Virginia.
The memories of those 29 miners that were killed and all those affected by this tragedy will live forever in our hearts. Our prayers go out to all of the families and persons who were involved in this mine disaster.