A coal company is suing HBO and its ”Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver, claiming the comedian and political commentator defamed them on air.
Coal titan Murray Energy called last Sunday’s show — which critiqued the Trump administration’s efforts to revive the struggling industry — a “false and malicious broadcast” in newly filed court papers.
The Ohio company is seeking financial damages, and requesting a court order that bars the segment from being rebroadcast.
The provocative segment needled Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray — with Oliver saying the 77-year-old tycoon looked like a “geriatric Dr. Evil” — while noting his company had battled coal safety regulations.
The talk show host also mentioned Murray’s litigious past, including a suit he filed against the New York Times last month for libel.
“Bob Murray, I didn’t really plan for so much of this piece to be about you, but you kind of forced my hand on that one,” Oliver said on air. “And I know you’re probably going to sue me over this. But, you know what? I stand by everything I said.”
Murray has publicly blamed the Obama administration for harming the coal industry.
The papers, filed Wednesday, claim Oliver tried to embarrass Murray by poking fun at his age and appearance, while spreading falsehoods about a 2007 Utah mine collapse in which nine people died.
Oliver ignored statements sent from spokespeople, the suit says, which show an earthquake triggered the collapse — and then neglected to mention “the efforts Mr. Murray personally made to save the trapped miners.”
Murray Energy employs some 5,400 people, with about half of those in West Virginia.
The show didn’t violate the rights of either Murray Energy or its CEO, an HBO spokesman said.
With Post wires