The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of a claim brought by Don Blankenship—former CEO of one of the United States’ largest coal companies and ex-candidate for U.S. Senate—in which he accused various media outlets of defamation when they mislabeled him a “felon” following his misdemeanor conspiracy conviction.

Blankenship is the former CEO of Massey Energy Company and was at the helm of the company in 2010 when a mine explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine killed 29 miners, according to the opinion. Blankenship was convicted of conspiracy claims related to his effort to cover up internal mine safety violations. While he was not held liable for the 29 people who died in the explosion, the incident spurred the investigation which led to the eventual conviction.

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