In what is generally considered the worst U.S. mining disaster in over four decades, the explosion of Upper Big Branch Mine in 2010 that killed 29 miners and injured many more, Michelle Parfitt led the plaintiffs represented by Ashcraft & Gerel through an emotional, complicated and high-profile case.
Her unparalleled dedication to seeking justice for her clients, which showed itself when she decided to assess and collect evidence herself in the still unstable mine, helped pave the way for a legal victory against mine owner Massey Energy.
During litigation, Ms. Parfitt and her peers condemned Massey for making production more of a priority than the safety of their own workers. They determined that the mine operator had allowed highly-explosive gases and dust to accumulate, which was fueled by sparks created by equipment in poor condition.
Ultimately, victims of the event received a substantial multi-million dollar verdict.