June 26, 2008
Massey Energy Co. agrees to noteworthy corporate governance improvements in environmental compliance and worker safety
Plaintiffs' litigation firm Motley Rice today announces court approval of a shareholder derivative settlement with Massey Energy Company (NYSE: MEE). Institutional shareholder Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust (Manville Trust) commenced this action aiming to improve the company's policies and procedures in the areas of environmental compliance and worker safety.
In the settlement with the Manville Trust, which resolves personal injury claims resulting from exposure to the asbestos-related products of the Johns-Manville Corporation and its affiliated entities, Massey Energy Co. agreed to significant structural changes and initiatives to improve and advance the company's environmental and worker-safety practices. The reforms provided by the settlement include the creation of new corporate vice presidents for Best Environmental Practices and Best Safety Practices, the implementation of an annual "Corporate Social Responsibility Report" to shareholders, and additional measures to improve monitoring and compliance. Originally proposed in May, the settlement was approved by Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Irene Berger on June 25, 2008.
The Manville Trust filed the case in July 2007 against company Chairman, CEO, and President Don Blankenship and certain other current and former officers and directors. The plaintiff sought several corporate governance reforms, specifically regarding environmental compliance and worker safety. Citing several incidents involving Massey Energy, including a major federal water pollution lawsuit, penalties for two coal miners' tragic deaths and other safety and environmental compliance problems, the lawsuit claimed that a "conscious failure" by the defendants to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations and other legal obligations posed a "substantial threat of monetary liability for violations."
"The reforms outlined in the settlement will help ensure that the company's practices conform to applicable legal requirements and also will promote a safe working environment for Massey Energy employees," said Ann Ritter, who played a significant role in negotiating the settlement. "Moreover, there is a large body of empirical evidence establishing that the quality of a company's governance practices correlates positively with increased shareholder value," Ritter added.
Motley Rice LLC, Andrew MacQueen of Charleston, West Virginia, and Rigrodsky & Long, P.A., worked together on this shareholder derivative action.
About Motley Rice LLC
Motley Rice LLC is one of the nation's largest plaintiffs' litigation firms. Motley Rice attorneys gained recognition for their litigation targeting bad business practices which have negatively impacted workers, the environment, public entities, aviation passengers, innocent victims of terrorism and shareholder value. Today, with nearly 70 attorneys and hundreds of staff, the firm continues to handle complex litigation, including cases in the areas of securities fraud, shareholder rights, aviation, asbestos bankruptcy, and human rights. The securities and consumer fraud practice group, composed of attorneys, business analysts and investigators, utilizes up-to-date case analysis and litigation strategies and has been appointed lead counsel in multiple cases. For more information on Motley Rice LLC or securities fraud litigation contact attorney Joe Rice (SC) at +1 800.768.4026.