RobertWeissman1Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen
The coal baron Don Blankenship, former CEO of Massey Energy, has been found guilty of conspiring to violate mine safety laws – a conspiracy that meant putting his company’s workers’ lives at risk.

For far too long in this nation’s history, coal operators have recklessly endangered their workers’ lives, with thousands of workers dying in accidents and many hundreds of thousands more dying and suffering from black lung and associated diseases.

Today’s guilty verdict should send the message to coal company executives that society will no longer tolerate this trade of miners’ lives for coal and profit. Indeed, it should send a message to CEOs across the country: No more recklessly endangering workers’ lives, and you will be held criminally liable if your actions – and inaction – cost lives.

The prosecutors who brought this case deserve immense credit, for it is no small thing to go after a coal executive in coal country, and prosecutions of corporate executives remain far too rare.


  • Marilyn Stubbs

    After years of watching CEOs of companies get by with workplace safety violations, I cannot help but feel there is another shoe to drop. So, he’s guilty. What is the penalty? And just who will pay it?

  • Chris Grimley

    I wish what you’ve said was true, but the message the CEOs actually get is they they shouldn’t make mistakes that cost the rich stock holders, i.e. killing poor people is okay, but costing rich people is a crime.

  • Beverly Foster

    That’s really great news. But how about the sentence? Only lengthy prison sentences will make a difference. For too long, criminal corporate management have been given minute fines, which mean nothing in their worlds.

  • Shirley Bernard

    A POSSIBLE one year jail sentence? Blankenship is a mass murderer! He is getting away with mass murder.

  • M. Grish

    This verdict shows corporate titans remain largely out of bounds for law enforcement, no matter how egregious their actions. I’m sorry, but one year in jail on a misdemeanor conviction is hardly a penalty commensurate with his repeated and impenitant crimes. Corporate malfeasance appears to have won again!

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