Breathless & Burdened is a yearlong investigation examining how doctors and lawyers, working at the behest of the coal industry, have helped defeat the benefits claims of miners sick and dying of black lung, even as disease rates are on the rise and an increasing number of miners are turning to a system that was supposed to help alleviate their suffering.
Center for Public Integrity reporter Chris Hamby explored thousands of previously classified legal filings and created original databases of medical evidence. Hamby traveled throughout West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland interviewing miners, their families and representatives, and experts in the medical and legal communities.
His reporting revealed how powerful — and, in some cases, unexpected — medical and legal forces undermine the promise of a 1969 law, leaving miners not only sick but also destitute.
Part of this series was produced in partnership with the ABC News investigative unit.
Author: Chris Hamby
Project editors: Ronnie Greene and Jim Morris
Web, multimedia: Kimberley Porteous, Erik Lincoln, Sarah Whitmire and Chris Zubak-Skees
Project illustration: Timothy Meko
Fact check: Peter Newbatt Smith
Data check: David Donald
Contributing reporting: ABC News chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross and investigative producer Matthew Mosk