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Christopher Keller of Labaton Sucharow.Christopher Keller of Labaton Sucharow. ()

When Massey Energy Co. suffered financial losses following a deadly 2010 coal-dust explosion, Labaton Sucharow came to shareholders’ rescue. The firm in June helped secure a $265 million settlement with Massey parent Alpha Natural Resources Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. A pension-fund client alleged that Massey had gave false assurances it was working to improve safety before 29 miners were killed in the Upper Big Branch Mine.

Labaton Sucharow partner Christo­pher Keller said he and his colleagues couldn’t rely on their knowledge of securities law. They undertook a crash course in mine safety and the science of explosions, using “all of the tools in our bag” to establish that Massey was at fault for the disaster. Only then could the team make the case that for securities fraud, he said. Other Labaton Sucharow partners in the case included Joel Bernstein, who served as lead counsel, plus David Goldsmith and Ira Schochet.

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