You don't have to be a doctor at Johns Hopkins to know black lung disease when you see it. I know firsthand because I've seen it. I've seen it kill my father, my grandfathers and uncles. They were all coal miners who breathed coal dust for years until their scarred lungs could no longer work and they suffocated.
Now a yearlong investigation finds that even if you are a doctor at Johns Hopkins, you may not acknowledge black lung disease, even when it's right in front of your eyes. "Breathless and Burdened," a scathing report from the Center for Public Integrity and ABC News, lays bare for the public something miners and their families in the coal fields have known for decades. Coal companies, their lawyers and their hand-picked doctors will go to any length—ethical or not—to deny the small monthly benefits that stricken miners are due under the Black Lung Benefits Act.
I know full well that coal companies have been cheating miners since the day coal was hand loaded and weighed and of the cold corporate "code of ethics" they operate under. But even with my years of experience in the mines and as a union leader, I was sickened and angered by what I read. You will be, too, when you read how lawyers at Jackson Kelly PLLC, the go-to law firm for coal companies fighting miners' black lung claims, have routinely withheld medical evidence.