Read the court filing: http://blogs.wvgazette.com/coaltattoo/
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Charleston Gazette on Friday joined with National Public Radio in a legal filing that urges the West Virginia Supreme Court to not seal the records in a lawsuit concerning the proposed buyout of Massey Energy by Alpha Natural Resources.
Earlier this week, a group of Massey stockholders asked the Supreme Court to at least temporarily block the merger. Those stockholders, led by the California State Teachers Retirement System, also asked the court to seal the entire record in the case.
In a legal brief, the Gazette and NPR argue that the public has a right to see the court documents, especially because they might contain more details about the events leading up to and following the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster.
"Massey Energy and its related entities form one of the largest employers in this state," the brief says. "As such, Massey's conduct, the sale or potential sale of the company, the required public disclosure of relevant information concerning the value of the company to shareholders so they can make informed decisions, and the actions of the parties in this case are of great interest and concern both to the citizens of West Virginia, and nationally as well."
Sean McGinley, a lawyer with the Charleston firm of DiTrapano Barrett & DiPiero, filed the brief on behalf of NPR and the Gazette.
The brief says, "In addition, there is a greater cause for public scrutiny of the filings in this matter in light of the April 5, 2010, explosion at Massey's Upper Big Branch Mine.
"The suspicious circumstances surrounding that tragedy have resulted in numerous lawsuits, including the recently-filed suit alleging that the sale of Massey to Alpha will harm the ability of victims and their families to recover damages," it says. "The filings in this case will likely shed new light on Massey's acts and or omissions in relation to this tragedy."