Michael v. Consolidation Coal Co. (Signed Opinion)Annotate this Case
In this case involving the deaths of seventy-eight minors in 1968 the Supreme Court answered questions of law certified to it by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit by concluding that the law in effect at the time of the tragedy did not recognize a cause of action for fraudulent concealment with respect to a statutory wrongful death claim.
Petitioners were survivors of the seventy-eight miners who were killed in 1968 when methane gas exploded at a mine in Farmington, West Virginia. Petitioners sued Respondent, the parent company of the owner and operator of the mine, alleging that Respondent fraudulently concealed facts regarding the cause of the mine explosion such that Petitioners were prevented from timely pursuing a claim for the wrongful deaths of their decedents. The federal district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that Plaintiffs' wrongful death claim was barred by the then-applicable two-year limitation period and was not tolled by the fraudulent concealment doctrine. The court of appeals certified two questions of law to the Supreme Court. The Court answered that a fraudulent concealment claim is not cognizable when the alleged injury was the plaintiffs' loss of a timely claim for wrongful death and that the second certified question was moot.