January 14, 1977: Governor Moore Accepts $1 Million Settlement

Jan 14, 2020

Credit e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On January 14, 1977, Governor Arch Moore accepted a $1 million settlement from the Pittston Coal Company related to the 1972 Buffalo Creek Flood. It was one of many lawsuits filed against Pittston after an improperly built coal dam collapsed, unleashing a muddy torrent that killed 125 people. 

In 1974, 645 survivors of the flood and family members reached a settlement with Pittston for $13.5 million, averaging out to $13,000 for each plaintiff after legal fees. West Virginia’s own lawsuit against Pittston had initially asked for $100 million for damages to state property and losses to residents. The case dragged on for years until Governor Moore settled the $100 million case for $1 million just three days before leaving office.

The deal dogged Moore for the rest of his career. Having faced several corruption allegations when serving as governor, Moore left office with a further blemish on his record. The state later had to pay the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers more than $9 million for recovery work along Buffalo Creek.

The flood prompted Congress and West Virginia to pass new laws regulating dam construction and maintenance.