WASHINGTON, April 19 /PRNewswire/ -- This evening, Massey Energy Company (NYSE: MEE) disclosed that Lady Barbara Thomas Judge had resigned from the Massey board of directors in the face of mounting shareholder anger over pervasive safety, risk oversight and other governance failures at the Company. The CtW Investment Group had called on the board to seek Lady Judge's resignation and initiate additional board changes in a March 31, 2010 letter to Massey's lead independent director, Admiral Bobby R. Inman, six days before the April 5 explosion at Massey's Upper Big Branch mine, in which 29 miners lost their lives.
The board's decision to reseat Lady Judge in 2009 despite majority shareholder opposition was symptomatic of an unaccountable board that failed to challenge Chairman and CEO Donald L. Blankenship's confrontational approach to shareholders, workers and regulators. In our view, the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine is the tragic and preventable consequence of this fundamental governance failure.
In a second letter to Admiral Inman on April 12, we called on the Massey board to immediately seek the resignation of Mr. Blankenship as Chairman and CEO. We also reiterated our opposition to the three directors standing for election at the company's May 18, 2010 annual meeting: Richard M Gabrys, Dan R. Moore and Baxter F. Phillips, Jr., all of whom, like Lady Judge prior to her resignation, sit on the failed Safety, Environmental and Public Policy Committee.
Lady Judge's resignation from the board - only three days after the company issued its 2010 proxy statement listing her as a director - acknowledges the pressure Massey's directors feel in the wake of the recent tragedy, but will not deter continued shareholder calls for board and management changes.
The CtW Investment Group's March 31, 2010 and April 12, 2010 letters to Admiral Inman are available at: http://ctwinvestmentgroup.com/.
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