The the man described by Rolling Stone as the “The Dark Lord of the Coal Fields” is suing coal giant Alpha Natural Resources of Bristol for refusing to pay his legal bills as he approaches his criminal trial April 20 related to the worst coal-mine disaster in 40 years.
Donald L. Blankenship, the former head of Richmond-based Massey Energy, filed suit in Delaware against Alpha which said: “Going forward, we do not intend to pay any legal fees with regard to Don Blankenship’s defense.” Those fees are likely to run in the millions.
Blankenship was indicted in November on four felony counts related to safety violations at the Upper Big Branch mine where an explosion killed 29 miners on April 5, 2010. He is also accused of securities fraud.
Blankenship resigned from Massey in December 2010 with a parachute estimated at $86 million. Alpha bought Massey in 2011 for $7 billion.
Since then, Alpha has been retraining the hundreds of Massey workers it absorbed but has gone through severe layoffs as demand for coal has stumbled.
Alpha’s stock has slipped from about $5 a share a year ago to $1.19 a share now. The firm lost $875 million last year. Demand for thermal coal has been drying up as cheaper natural gas from fracking has flooded the market. Also, the rich steel-making coal reserves Alpha got with its buy of Massey have gone wanting as Asian nations, especially China, go through an economic slump.
Blankenship will go on trial in U.S. District Court in Beckley, W.Va.There are currently no comments highlighted.