On April 5, 2010, an explosion occurred at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia, killing all but two of the miners that were at the site. Hailed as the worst mining accident in the United States since 1970, the Mine Health and Safety Administration determined that the cause of the explosion was due to flagrant safety violations on the part of Massey Energy. Over 350 citations were issued, leading to over $10.8 million in penalties. In addition, the former CEO of Massey Energy, Don Blankenship, was charged with conspiring to violate health and safety standards at Upper Big Branch Mine and lying to federal financial regulators about the safety measures employed in the blast that killed the miners.
Why seek a gag order in this case?
Recently, Blankenship informed a judge that he wants his criminal trial delayed for at least a year and his federal criminal case moved. He claims that he is unable to get a fair trial in West Virginia as a result of the negative publicity surrounding his involvement in the explosion. In addition, Blankenship seeks a gag order in the case, preventing news organizations from accessing the details shared in the courtroom. A gag order will further seal the court filings and prevent anyone involved in the case from speaking with the media or releasing court documents related to the case at all.