CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A group of Massey Energy shareholders filed a last-ditch petition with the West Virginia Supreme Court on Wednesday, seeking to stop the $8.5 billion transaction that would make Massey part of Alpha Natural Resources.
Justices are keeping records of the case hidden from the public until they consider a motion to seal them.
However, documents in a similar case -- made public Tuesday by a Delaware judge -- reveal a wealth of new details of the events between the April 5, 2010, Upper Big Branch Mine disaster to January's announcement that Alpha would seek to acquire Massey.
Among other things, the Delaware records show that Alpha CEO Kevin Crutchfield was prepared to provide Massey's now-retired and controversial chief executive, Don Blankenship, with a job as an Alpha consultant.
At the same time, the records show that experts who examined Massey as part of Alpha's "due diligence" for the transaction found major problems with Massey's safety practices and the company's management.
"The entire Massey organization appears to be managed by an autocratic central command and control structure," says one Alpha document quoted in the court records. "This can be seen in all facets of the organization and results in senior operating management being involved in lower level mine issues and decisions.
"The Massey culture is driven by a strong focus on production and its associated components with other facets of the operations such as employee safety and regulatory compliance receiving minimal consideration," the document says.
"The underground site visits indicated a strong cultural emphasis on production first with compliance and outby maintenance on a non-priority basis," it says. "The plants are generally poorly maintained and have been for a period of time."
In the West Virginia and Delaware lawsuits, certain Massey shareholder groups are seeking to block the Alpha buyout as part of an effort to hold Massey executives and board members responsible for the Upper Big Branch disaster and alleged mismanagement of the Richmond, Va.-based coal giant.
Documents in the Delaware case allege that the mine disaster has reduced Massey's economic value by more than $1 billion, along with more than $165 million in out-of-pocket costs and $320 million in lost coal revenues.