Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Justice Studies

First Advisor

Terry C. Cox

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies


Corporate crimes, defined as "illegal and harmful acts committed by officer and employees of corporations to promote corporate interests," have a greater impact on society than many street crimes. Corporate crime includes a range of white-collar crimes that affect employees and consumers. White-collar and corporate crimes are often ignored by the media unless there is involvement in some high profile scandal. There tends to be a paucity of research associated with coal industry related corporate crimes. This includes personal and death related events in the coal mining industry. This was evident in the 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, West Virginia that resulted in the death of twenty-nine miners. The goals of this thesis include the examination of how the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster was represented by various institutions, including governmental agencies. Included are explanations of how Massey Energy corporate officials violated safety regulations and permitted the continuous operation of a mine that have been previously cited for numerous safety violations. Ultimately, a position is presented that the injurious and harmful actions of Massey Energy Corporation officials was criminal as opposed to a preventable accident.