Attorney Steve Ruby recently discussed the Upper Big Branch mine disaster 10 years after its occurrence.
The Upper Big Branch mine disaster took place on April 5, 2010. Twenty-nine of 31 miners on the job site were killed that day. Steve Ruby was the attorney who spearheaded the investigation of the incident, which led to five major criminal convictions and a resolution of $209 million.
The work done by attorney Steve Ruby ended in the largest-ever recovery in a criminal mine safety case. Steve Ruby stated that his investigation resulted in a nine-week-long jury trial. It also resulted in the first-ever conviction of a CEO of a major company for a workplace safety crime. Steve Ruby described that justice was sought, and thankfully for the loved ones of the miners, it was rewarded. The case and investigation led by Steve Ruby was covered on CBS’ 60 Minutes in 2016.
According to Steve Ruby and other investigation experts, the incredible amount of toxic gases in the mine kept investigators out of the mine for more than two months. This is much of what made the investigation so difficult, causing families and loved ones to wait even longer for some kind of information or resolution.
“We were determined to find answers for these hardworking miners of West Virginia, all of their loved ones, and the miners who continue to risk their lives everyday,” Steve Ruby said.
Steve Ruby also reminded his audience that Don Blankenship, then CEO of Massey Energy, was indicted on numerous criminal counts by a grand jury. He was convicted on a charge of conspiring to violate the country’s mine safety standards. Massey served one full year in prison and was forced to pay millions of dollars in fines for his infractions of more than 3,000 safety violations. Steve Ruby and countless other investigators, officials and loved ones of the miners agreed the prison sentence and fines should have been more stringent.
“Mine officials, and all others serving these high-power positions in West Virginia, have a lot of connections,” Steve Ruby said. “Ten years later, we’re still grateful we were able to put in the hard work and bring these miners and their families for justice. We weren’t going to sit idly by and watch this CEO get away with murder.”
Steve Ruby and his team send condolences to all of the loved ones of the miners, who should never have lost them in the first place. They hope a reflection on the 10-year anniversary of this event will bring more awareness for the event, the safety standards of the mining industry, and how important it is to uphold those safety standards at all times.