We, the employees of Murray Energy Corporation and Subsidiary Companies ("Murray Energy"), are writing to you regarding numerous blatantly false and malicious articles published in The Charleston Gazette, and often written by your reporter, Mr. Kenneth W. Ward, Jr., both recently and over many years. Indeed, The Charleston Gazette and Mr. Ward have reputations for unfairly and untruthfully demonizing and damaging coal mining companies, managers, the miners themselves and other innocent people. Generally, anything written about the coal industry in The Charleston Gazette or by Mr. Ward is totally discredited and ignored in our industry. But, unfortunately, other publishers do sometimes repeat your lies and innuendos.
This letter is being written as your offered settlement in the litigation filed against The Charleston Gazette, The Daily Gazette Company, et al., and Mr. Kenneth Ward on July 25, 2012 by Murray Energy and Subsidiary Companies and Mr. Murray in the Court of Common Pleas, Belmont County, Ohio. The complaint is for profound damages, libel, defamation, and the deliberate concoction of lies by The Charleston Gazette newspaper, Gazette website and Coal Tattoo 'blog'.
Indeed, The Charleston Gazette and Mr. Ward are in a position to accurately report on, and even support, our coal industry. Yet, your newspaper and Mr. Ward have become totally discredited by your demonizing the responsible Americans who have created and maintained our important industry and the jobs and families that depend on it. You have chosen to falsely assail our Company and founder using second-hand information or by just creating mistruths.
It would be well to contrast your attacks on Mr. Murray and Murray Energy over the past years with the full page advertisement, a surprise to Mr. Murray, that appeared in last Sunday's, October 21, edition of the Wheeling, West Virginia News Register, which was signed by 448 hourly employees (no management) of American Energy Corporation's Century Mine (a Murray Energy Subsidiary) stating the following:
a) "We would like the public to know we were not forced to attend the Romney Political Rally on 8/14/2012. We chose to be there. We arrived knowing we would not be paid and we approved of this."
b) "If we have donated funds to a political candidate or a political action committee it is because we have elected to do so."
c) "We are proud to be employed by and associated to Mr. Robert E. Murray."
Mr. Ward's 'blog' entitled "Coal Tattoo: Mining's Mark on Our World" is clearly an attack on the coal mining industry in general. In fact, in reviewing his articles as far back as the 'blog's' founding, on February 5, 2009, we could not find a single article that was supportive of the coal industry. Given the paramount economic importance of the coal jobs to our region, Mr. Ward's articles have had, and continue to have, a very destructive impact on the region's coal miners and their families. Why The Charleston Gazette continues to associate itself with an unscrupulous, discredited, radical reporter and 'blogger' such as Mr. Ward is mystifying.
Let us set the record straight. The top priority for Murray Energy is the health and safety of our employees. As Mr. Murray, who has been severely injured a number of times while working in the mines, (three broken necks, a broken hip, etc.) states every day "No pound of coal is worth ever getting someone hurt over". Also, "One of my greatest hopes is your bodies do not hurt like mine when you are seventy-two years old." He also states, "I want you to retire with Murray Energy. This means that you will have worked safely and will have worked -- period."
While working in the mines daily over a sixteen year period, and he has visited all twenty-two of our continuous miner and five longwall sections in four states in the past two months, he had to directly deal with injuries, deaths, and family trauma. He knows the total importance of employee safety and how to achieve it.
Contrary to Mr. Ward's and The Charleston Gazette's allegations, Mr. Murray and our Company have never been charged with any "criminal" activity regarding the safety of our employees. The cause of the tragic fatalities in August, 2006, at the Crandall Canyon Mine of Genwal Resources, Inc., is still not known. After a thorough, over five year, investigation by the U. S. Justice Department, no criminal actions by the Company, or any employee, were ever found. Any civil penalties paid to the Federal Mine Safety & Health Administration ("MSHA") were unrelated to any potential cause of this accident. Mr. Murray himself arrived within four hours of the accident and remained at the Mine for twenty-eight days directing the attempted recovery of the trapped miners and administering to their families on an hour by hour basis.