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Court revives lawsuit over fatal W.Va. mine fire

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit against the Mine Safety and Health Administration over the deaths of two West Virginia coal miners.

U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver had dismissed the suit, saying MSHA was immune because private inspectors in the same circumstances could not be held liable.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., asked the West Virginia Supreme Court for its interpretation of the law, and the justices said private inspectors could be held liable. Based on that advice, a three-judge panel of the appeals court reinstated the lawsuit Tuesday.

The widows of miners Don Bragg and Ellery Hatfield sued MSHA in April 2010. The men died when they were trapped in a fire in 2006 in Massey Energy's Aracoma mine.


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