West Virginia Supreme Court Ruling Rolling Back Black Lung Benefits – A Travesty


NOVEMBER 4, 2018

[CHARLESTON, W.VA.] United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

“The ruling issued on Friday by the West Virginia Supreme Court that limits the ability of miners who are suffering from Black Lung to file workers compensation claims is a travesty. The new majority on the Court threw out decades of settled law and clear legislative intent in an outrageous ruling that demonstrates a callous disregard for human suffering, especially at a time when black lung is on the rise among miners of all ages.

“One only has to read Justice Margaret Workman’s dissent to understand just how far removed from traditional West Virginia values this ruling is. She said, ‘…Today’s opinion is an extreme departure from the long-standing rule of law firmly established in the management of Occupational Pneumoconiosis (OP) claims. The majority is way too eager to radically rewrite West Virginia Code….with far-reaching and grotesquely unfair consequences. It demonstrates either an ignorance of the law or a callous disregard for those who suffer from OP. While the majority claims to be against judicial activism, apparently it will make exceptions as its agenda requires.’

“We now have a clear understanding of what kind of rulings to expect from newly-appointed Justices Armistead and Jenkins. This ruling demonstrates just how important it is for working West Virginians, especially those miners who have contracted black lung or believe they will need black lung benefits in the future, to vote on Tuesday for Justices of the Supreme Court who will stand up for them.

The choices could not be more clear. Joanna Tabit and Jeff Kessler have the UMWA’s endorsement because they have the people’s interests at heart. Tim Armistead and Evan Jenkins have the big corporations and insurance companies interests at heart. West Virginia working families must keep that in mind as they head to the polls on Tuesday.”