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Former coal baron Blankenship sues media, claims defamation

FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2018, file photo, former Massey CEO and West Virginia Republican Senatorial candidate, Don Blankenship, speaks during a town hall to kick off his campaign in Logan, W.Va. Blankenship is suing several news outlets and media personalities, claiming he was defamed during his failed bid for a U.S. senate seat in West Virginia. Blankenship's suit was filed Thursday, March 14, 2019 in Mingo County, West Virginia. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (AP) — Former coal baron Don Blankenship is suing several news outlets and media personalities, claiming he was defamed during his failed bid for a U.S. senate seat in West Virginia.

Blankenship's suit was filed Thursday in Mingo County, West Virginia. It names The Associated Press among other large media companies.

Blankenship says news organizations waged a concerted plot to destroy him by erroneously labeling him as a convicted felon or saying he was imprisoned for manslaughter.

Blankenship is the former CEO of Massey Energy, which owned a mine where a 2010 explosion killed 29 workers. He spent a year in federal prison after being convicted of conspiring to break mine safety laws, a misdemeanor.

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Blankenship is seeking $12 billion in damages.

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